The award recipients for this year’s My Own Two Hands exemplify the spirit of the Sisters community in their work and in their generosity in donating to the Sisters Folk Festival’s programing.

Sisters Folk Festival’s annual My Own Two Hands art auction and fundraiser will be a completely online silent auction this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual auction will open on Friday, May 8 and close on Saturday, May 16, with more than 70 different items coming up for bid during that time. Since 2002, local and regional artists have donated tens of thousands of dollars worth of artwork to My Own Two Hands (MOTH) in support of Sisters Folk Festival’s mission of providing comprehensive music and arts education.

The theme of this year’s My Own Two Hands event is “A New Dawn.”

“The theme was decided well before the COVID-19 pandemic in order to give artists a focused theme to create their pieces around, and we believe the theme couldn’t be more appropriate as we look forward to better days and opportunity ahead,” the folk festival stated.

Sisters Folk Festival announced the 2020 My Own Two Hands Award Recipients:

The Theme Award is given to the artist and artwork that most closely adheres to or interprets the yearly theme. It went David Mensing, for his illuminating oil painting, “Plenary.” Mensing stated, “It is my honor to participate in support of My Own Two Hands and The Sisters Folk Festival. The value they bring to my family and the community can’t be overstated.”

Three Awards of Merit were given to artists and artwork recognized for excellence in craft, execution and/or interpretation in their chosen medium.

• Janice Druian’s beautiful capturing of “Dawn’s Early Light.” Druian says the unique painting “is from a photo I took of pinnacles at Smith Rock State Park. Since I have a view of Smith Rock from home it is an ongoing inspiration. Whether I am painting landscapes or interior studies, I am always conscious of the beauty of solitude. During this time of social distancing it has become a strength.”

• Wendy Birnbaum and Susie Zeitner’s glass and iron collaboration “Stepping Into Light.”

“We’re honored to receive this award for doing what we love — collaborating to select a photograph to enhance the MOTH theme, then letting the light in the photograph and the light and texture of the glass blend together to create a three-dimensional piece,” the artists stated. “We feel great joy donating our art to help raise money and awareness for art and music programs in the schools.”

• Mike Stasko’s original pencil drawing “April Showers (with Pegasus).” Stasko states, “April showers, as the saying goes, brings May flowers in a season of rebirth, renewal and growth: a new dawn.”

The Americana Folk Award was given to the artist and artwork that represents expression and culture of the United States of America and is rooted in traditions that come from community and culture – expressing cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics.

Dorothy Holmes Mohler earned the honors for her playful original painting “The Sun Followers.” Mohler said, “I am by no means trying to change the world with my art. I am just so thrilled to be painting every day. Hopefully, people will see joy and possibly some of nature’s beauty when looking at my work.”

The Spirit of Giving Award was given to the artist, artwork, organization or person that consistently shares generosity of spirit and engagement in community, and actively seeks to contribute in a positive, meaningful way. Thompson Guitars earned that honor for consistently and generously providing a handmade guitar for the auction each year.

Thompson Guitars are respected worldwide and are played by many of today’s top guitarists.

Christine Funk said, “We are especially proud to be located in this thriving musical community. We are very appreciative of receiving the Spirit of Giving award this year in recognition of our donation of a specially made ‘My Own Two Hands’ guitar for the past five years that is sold during the ‘live’ auction event. We are thrilled each time one sells, knowing that the money is used to continue music education for the next generation of players and music lovers.”

The Pamela Hulse Andrews Student Achievement Award was given to the student artist and artwork that represents excellence and achievement of their work and contribution to their school and community.

This year it went to Sierra Henneous, Sisters High School senior, a gifted singer, songwriter, guitarist and fine visual art student. Sierra’s art teacher, Bethany Gunnarson, said, “Sierra is dedicated, thoughtful, and giving with her work and I know that the arts are a really important part of her life. I know that she will always be involved in the arts one way or another, passing it along and helping others.”

The Ben Westlund Advocate For the Arts Award goes to the artist, organization, or person who consistently supports, promotes, and perpetuates cultural expression and engagement, and advocates for building on the arts economy and thriving arts scene.

Caldera was honored as a catalyst for the transformation of under-served youth through innovative, year-round art and environmental programs. Since 1996, Caldera’s Youth Program has served 15,000 Oregon middle and high school students in rural and urban communities, including Sisters.

Through their Artists in Residence Program, Caldera supports professional artists to build skills, relationships, and projects that inspire growth, combat oppression, and activate change. These residencies culminate in monthly winter Open Studios, which showcase the work of Artists in Residence and Youth Program students for the Central Oregon community.

Caldera’s programs nurture individual creativity to ignite self-expression and transform the way people engage in their lives, families, and communities.

“Caldera is honored to be the recipient of the Ben Westlund Advocate for the Arts Award. As always and in these difficult times, music, the arts and self-expression are so vital for young people, creatives and our local communities. Our partnership with Sisters Folk Festival sustains and strengthens all of us,” said Rene Mitchell, board chair.

The MOTH Inspiration Award was given to an artist and/or person who inspires others to achieve excellence in artistic expression in a literary, musical, visual, or other artistic endeavor.

MOTH honored the late Bill MacDonald, Americana Luthier Program and ukulele building instructor at Sisters High School. For more than a decade, MacDonald, with a core team of volunteers, helped students discover the love of building musical instruments, including hand-made ukuleles, through Sisters Folk Festival programming in the high school.

Another Luthier Program volunteer David Perkins said, “Bill taught me so much, not only about wood working, but about life. I especially appreciated his sense of humor, and his ability to turn lemons into lemonade.”

Ukulele volunteer Marcy Edwards added, “We all have fond memories of Bill during any final step when, with a quirky smile and a twinkle in his eyes, he would encourage the student to wave his or her arms over the glued/clamped/repaired instrument and say ‘Haji Maji’ as he managed to get every student to smile and play along. My records show that over 150 ukuleles were hand crafted in Bill’s high school ukulele classes!”

Sisters High School woodworking teacher Tony Cosby said, “Bill took volunteering to a new dimension. I can’t remember him taking a day off. I also can’t remember him ever saying to a student, ‘no I can’t help you.’”

SFF hopes the My Own Two Hands online art auction fundraiser will provide much-needed money for core mission support while showcasing the dozens of Central Oregon artists and businesses who have contributed.

No ticket purchase is necessary to participate in the auction, and bids can be placed from the comfort and safety of home via your cell phone or internet-connected device.

Follow Sisters Folk Festival on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date event information. For more information on the My Own Two Hands auction and fundraiser, go to www.sistersfolkfestival.org, and to participate May 8-16 in the online art auction fundraiser, visit http://tinyurl.com/MOTH2020.