Paul Bennett and Susan Emmons display Bennett’s painting “The Knot Rider.” wphoto provided
Paul Bennett and Susan Emmons display Bennett’s painting “The Knot Rider.” wphoto provided
A dozen or so years ago, renowned Sisters artist Paul Alan Bennett applied brush to board and created a whimsical piece called “The Knot Rider.”

Bennett told The Nugget the story of how the idea for the painting came to him.

“I knew this man who loved to tie knots. He always carried six feet of rope in his pocket, so that he could demonstrate his knot-tying knowledge to all of his friends.

“One day, he emailed me a picture of one of his knots. The knot reminded me of my knit style in the way that the rope was made, and the shape of the knot reminded me of a horse. As this was around the time of the Sisters Rodeo, I thought it would be kind of funny to do a variation on a bull rider, but this would be, instead, ‘The Knot Rider,’” Bennett said.

The painting is a giant knot, perhaps a bowline, bucking like a bull, with a man in a suit and a fedora. The man is hanging on to one end of the rope; in fact, he’s at the end of his rope. The whole bucking rope casts a shadow on the ground. The Three Sisters are in the background.

The rope, the ground, and the rope’s shadow feature Bennett’s traditional knit stitch. The knit stitch design originated when, as a young man living and studying in Greece, Bennett traveled to the Great Bazaar of Istanbul, and purchased several pairs of knitted gloves as souvenirs. Returning to his flat, he copied one of the gloves as a painting, and loved how the pattern of stockinet stitch looked when replicated in paint. It became his trademark.

In 2005 or 2006, Doug Schaumburg bought “The Knot Rider” from a gallery in Sisters, and enjoyed it in his home for many years. The large painting (40 by 30 inches) has a custom frame, brown with black trim, that’s appropriate to the Western theme.

Schaumburg says, “I loved it because it (depicted) the Sisters and the cowboy stuff, and it has some local culture.” Some time after Schaumburg bought the piece, Paul signed the back in gold ink.

When Schaumburg moved from Sisters to Las Vegas to help his daughter with her dog rescue, he offered the painting for sale, but it didn’t find the right owner at that time. It’s been waiting for a couple of years, but he thinks the time for a new lease on life is right now for The Knot Rider.

This summer, through a mutual friend, he met Susan Emmons, who is a member of Assistance League of Bend. Assistance League of Bend is one of 126 chapters of this national nonprofit organization that transforms the lives of children and adults through philanthropic community programs.

One of the primary initiatives of the organization is Operation School Bell, providing new school clothing to school-aged children throughout Deschutes County, including Sisters. Forty children from Sisters, kindergarten through high school, visited Wal-Mart and bought new clothes, including winter coats and boots this fall, as part of Operation School Bell.

“New clothes build confidence so that the students can focus on learning, and so that they can feel as included as their peers,” Emmons said.

Nearly 1,800 students throughout the county were dressed by Operation School Bell in 2018, and that number has grown this

year.

One of Assistance League of Bend’s most important fundraising events is the annual gala that will be held November 16 at 5:30 p.m. at The Riverhouse in Bend. The Gala will include dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions. The Knot Rider will be prominently featured as an auction item. Tickets to the event are $125 each, and are available online at www.assistanceleague.org/bend. Bidders on the painting must attend the event to bid.

Emmons expressed tremendous appreciation that an iconic Sisters work of art is going on the auction block in an effort to help families from Sisters. Schaumberg said the same.

“I’m happy to pay it forward,” he said.

Other accomplishments of the Assistance League of Bend include handcrafting and delivering 1,894 hats to chemotherapy patients and to the homeless; creating and distributing 75 memory books as a record of important papers and events for foster children; providing personal-care items to 1,350 seniors in care facilities; donating holiday gifts to 250 low-income seniors; a breakfast with Santa for all the county’s foster children and their families; rewarding 16 at-risk teens from an alternative high school for outstanding attendance; teaching cooking and nutrition classes to fourth- and fifth-grades; and the newest effort, outfitting high school girls with new and gently-used formal prom dresses and accessories.