Last month I found myself sipping on deliciously tart hard cider from the local Red Tank cider mill huddled under a cloth umbrella in the early evening drizzle. As two-man-band If BEARS were BEES played next to the blazing fire, I watched the steam rise from Dump City Dumpling's wooden baskets of treats across the concrete courtyard.
The occasion? Last Saturday, a monthly event that showcases local artists and musicians.
The collective of hip-looking folks huddled under umbrellas in the open courtyard that connects the ever-popular and delicious Sparrow Bakery, The Workhouse, Stewart's of Bend, Cindercone Clay Center and other small hole-in-the-wall galleries that display product from multiple local artists. The tucked-away locale off Scott Street is quickly becoming the home of Bend's elite and artsy. As the rain continued to fall, the crowd inside the Old Iron Works started to look like a casting call for a "Portlandia" sketch set in a live Etsy store.
Built in 1912 to service Bend's lumber mills and railroad, the Iron Works District has recently undergone a repurposing, evolving from rusty, vacant buildings to the home of a conglomerate of artistic studio spaces hosting all types of artists—fashion designers, medal workers, painters, sculptors and more. Just like Portland's Pearl District, the Old Iron Works has converted an industrial wasteland into a bustling center for culture with a monthly open house (there First Thursday; here Last Saturday and short the high-rise lofts).
"Last Saturday has such a wide variety of unique arts on display, along with amazing drinks and music," local artist Katie Scott explained. Scott rents one of the six new studio spaces at Studio 3, a photography gallery and workspace that recently expanded into the eastern most building of the growing arts district. "It's the perfect place to go hang out, mingle, and check out some of the awesome talent we have in this town."
Owned by photographer Tambi Lane, Studio 3 has been a part of the district for almost two years. Lane recently transformed the open vacant suite into six 10 by 10-foot studios separated by old doors and other material gathered from Bend's ReStore; the spaces are for rent to local artists as work and hanging spaces.
"We decided that something that would be great for the Iron Works was a gallery and work space for two-dimensional artists," Lane said.
When I mentioned the run-down nature of the Iron Works location, Lane was quick to defend it.
"I would rather be in an old building that has some character," Lane said. "I love the peeling paint and the rust and if there are a few leaks, whatever. It's so much more interesting to me to be in a space that has a story and some history."
Old Ironworks Art District
50 SE Scott St.
Saturday, June 29th
Shape Shifters Belly Dance Troupe; music by CalicoLeaf, Isles, Greg Botsford and the Journeymen and Sara Jackson-Holman; eats from Dump City Dumplings.
Ride your bike and bring your own cup for free drinks!