Bella Vista Arts Council recognizes area artists

The members of the Bella Vista Arts Council are pleased to honor for the June 2024 Artist Spotlight program the Bella Vista in Bloom co-directors and fiber artists – Debra DeVilbiss, Teresa Oller, and Barbara Pelton.

The group will be recognized in a ceremony with Bella Vista Mayor John Flynn at a public reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 20 at the Gear Garden at Blowing Springs Park, 948 Blowing Springs Rd. in Bella Vista.

Bella Vista in Bloom, a temporary public art installation, is back for its third year and on display now through July 11. The installations can be viewed at the Gear Garden, along with the Bella Vista Public Library, Bella Vista Historical Museum, along the six-foot chain link fence behind Bella Vista Fire Station No. 1 facing U.S. Hwy. 71, and the Loch Lomond dog park at 59 Glasgow Road. Artwork on display features pieces by area fiber artisans known as “yarn bombing,” and include delightful explosions of color around town.

Debra DeVilbiss
If there’s something that stands out about Debra DeVilbiss and her creative expression, it’s inquisitiveness and nimble fingers. Crochet, embroidery, and beading as well as picking guitar, blogging, and writing poetry round out her diverse passions, started at a young age.

As a small child, eager to crochet like the other women in her family, DeVilbiss’ tiny hands were too clumsy to hold a crochet hook. Undaunted, she tied scrap yarn around her big toe and learned to finger-crochet long strands of chain stitches. After that, she was “hooked.”

Driven by curiosity, about 20 years ago she strayed from using patterns designed by others and embraced freeform and yarn scrumbles. A week-long class in 2012 with Marie Treanor taught her the ultimate in freeform, Irish crochet lace. Now she crochets freeform, designs patterns, enjoying the mathematical complexity it requires, and teaches others more advanced crochet skills. Her current adventure integrates beading with fine thread resulting in lacy jewelry that she sells in her Etsy shop, Larkbunting Lace.

Along the way, DeVilbiss embraced community-created art. She participated in several yarn bomb projects while living in Colorado and in 2018 was a crocheter contributing to “Arizona,” a huge, juried, lace installation in Scottsdale, AZ, designed by Jin Choi and Tom Shine.

In 2021, a chance meeting with Demara Titzer, President of the Bella Vista Arts Council revealed a common love of public art, and “Bella Vista in Bloom,” now in its third year, was born. Debra serves as Creative Director of this annual explosion of color.

Teresa Oller
Oller has dabbled in a variety of creative pursuits, including cross stitch, jewelry making, mosaics, and pottery.

About 10 years ago, she was introduced to crochet by a good friend, and it felt like coming home. She loves the beauty, versatility, practicality and meditative quality of crochet.

Wanting to meet some kindred spirits after moving to Bella Vista in 2019, Oller joined a crochet and knitting group at the Bella Vista Public Library. Shortly thereafter, she met DeVilbiss and found her first community art project. Being involved with the Bella Vista in Bloom project over the last three years has stretched her creative skills and helped to showcase everything she loves about crochet and art.

Barbara Pelton
Pelton had never seen a yarn bomb, much less participated in one, until moving to Bella Vista and finding Bella Vista in Bloom.

She had not crocheted in 40 years but remembered that she enjoyed it when her mother taught her the basics as a youngster. Once she became reacquainted with the techniques, she began to think about how a yarn bomb challenges the idea of the time-honored craft. What is traditionally used indoors is displayed outside - despite the elements. A dainty craft becomes bold, filled with color. Old Afghans can be resurrected with new designs added to the surface, adding a second life to something that may have been discarded.

Pelton loves that anyone can participate in this temporary exhibit, allowing people to be united in fun and an explosion of color.

Follow Bella Vista in Bloom on Instagram to stay up to date on all the activities and to find where this year’s new selfie station is currently located. Make time to visit those locations and post a selfie. Don’t forget to tag the City of Bella Vista (@cityofbellavista) and use hashtags #BVinBloom and #bellavistaar.

To volunteer and help build a community through public art, join the Bella Vista in Bloom Facebook group, where you will find updates on items that might still be needed and view schedules for assembly, installation, and removal of the art for reuse next year. The take-down stage does not require needlework skills so anyone who is interested can join in.

The Bella Vista Arts Council, an advisory board to the City Council, was created by the City Council in February 2016 to help promote the arts in Bella Vista. Board members are Demara Titzer (president), Gina Porter, and Barbara Pelton. The board established an Artist of the Month program in 2018, in which selected artists and their work were showcased and recognized monthly for their achievements. That program has become a quarterly recognition called Artist Spotlight, and three separate artists are featured each quarter.

A committee will choose each quarter from qualified artists, who must be residents of Bella Vista. Events will be held in a location around the city. Submit nominations via email to