By JENNIFER K. BAUER
Since 2002, Dave Hechtner has served as the official artist for the Avista NAIA World Series. Each year he hand-draws a limited-edition print that becomes a souvenir for fans and players from near and far.
Hechtner, 57, was a fourth-generation farmer in Lapwai before his second life as an artist. During the series he can be found signing copies of current and past prints. Each drawing takes him 80 to 100 hours of work. Some years he focuses on the sport’s action. Other years nostalgia might come into play, like 2009’s drawing of an elderly man looking into his great-grandson’s eyes under the Series’s arched gateway.
Hechtner is paid a commission for the original drawing but donates all further proceeds to the college. Before this year’s tournament began, he talked to Inland 360 about the places his pencil leads him.
360: How did you begin drawing for the series?
Hechtner: (Former tournament director) Jamie White came up with the idea. He’d seen commemorative prints at rodeos and said let’s do this for the series.
360: What was your art background?
Hechtner: I used to be a farmer. I always knew I could draw. I was having trouble sleeping at night, so I started drawing and noticed I felt better. It was stress relief. I took some work to be framed at (Lewiston’s former) Lyman Gallery. They wanted me to exhibit my work and mentored me for awhile.
360: How do you decide what to draw each year?
Hechtner: It’s a long process and it’s hard to come up with new ideas. I use photos for reference. I make a scene and have people pose. It’s a lot easier to work from a photo than have people stand there for you. (The 2014) print features Jake Shirley, the starting catcher for the Warriors this year. … Maybe I might use a bit of artistic licence — sometimes I draw my mom and dad into the crowd.
360: Do you have a best-selling print?
Hechtner: There are two camps. Some people like action images. Some people like images of what baseball means to them. Each one is a favorite for some people. The biggest reward for me is the people whose teams come back every year and they start to collect them. They show me pictures of my work hanging in their living rooms.
360: Do you have a favorite print?
Hechtner: Each one has a story. In the first one I did the batter I drew went to the majors. Six or seven years later I was signing prints and I noticed a couple hovering around waiting for a moment to talk to me alone. They said, “We want to buy a print but before we do we want to tell you a story.” Tears filled the woman’s eyes as she pointed to a face in the crowd behind the batter. She said, “That’s my dad and he’s not alive anymore.”
It’s been an honor to do this for 13 years, so far. There are so many people in the valley who volunteer their time. It gave me an opportunity to give back.
if you go
What: Avista NAIA World Series
When: May 23-24 and May 26 through May 30
Where: Harris Field, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston
Cost: General admission tickets start at $10 for a one-day pass. Game schedule and ticket information is available at www.naiaworldseries.com or by calling (208) 792-2471.
Hechtner’s prints are $20 and are available at the series.