It interests me how creative Bend can be, and how much our artist community has grown. In many ways, it feels like it hasn't changed much over the years—like the fact that there are still not many spaces artists can hang their work. Of course, they are plenty of privately owned spaces, but often these business owners, who tell you they want art hung in their space, will always consider their patrons' interpretations of art over the work of the artist themselves. This can be devastating to the growth of the artist community, not allowing artists to be free to truly share their work. It also sends the wrong idea about the community we are in, leaving artists feeling like they are not sure where to go to be accepted and nurtured.
- Courtesy Cari Brown
If you're an artist looking for connection to other artists, Bright Place Gallery, The Workhouse or Willow Lane are good places to start, as they all host spaces that artists work in, as well as retail spaces. Bright Place Gallery is also a great stop for lunch, or if you're looking to have a perfectly made cup of coffee brewed by a vintage refurbished cappuccino maker while in a modernized school bus cafe/mobile gallery. Yes, it's that hip.
Are you looking to enhance your own practice? Learn new skills? Atelier 6000 is a great place for artists who already have their own creative practice but are looking to grow and enhance it. A working print studio, A6 is housed in the Bend Art Center, offering amazing, deep classes for artists to work alongside masters in their craft. They also offer memberships if you want to have access to the large presses. Often, they have studio member exhibition and sales, which are also a delight of eclectic work.
Are you simply looking to find artists for a commission or to buy handmade items? Red Chair Gallery downtown is an artist collective, as well as Tumalo Art Co. in the Old Mill District. One of the things I love about both of these places is that the artists work the shops. While artists aren't always great talking about their own work, they can be fantastic when talking about a fellow artist's work. During the summer, you'll even find some of the Tumalo Art Co. artists painting en plain air around the Old Mill.
Let's not forget about the enclaves where artists work, away from the public eye, such as Cindercone Clay Center for potters and Torch for jewelers. While these spaces are not necessarily open on a daily basis to visitors, they do provide an integral service: housing artists in affordable spaces.
There are quite a few other spaces where artists can come together without the fear of their work being pulled apart or unfairly critiqued—even resulting in them being banished from the walls. It's important to remember these spaces and help keep their doors open—unless we all want to be ruled by the person who views a piece of art and gets hung up on the word "ass."