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Survival is Insufficient

PCA and Scalehouse continue to grow

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There really is no underestimating the importance of art in a time when certain creature comforts get left behind. I'll never forget when I was going to Central Oregon Community College in the early 2000s and Oregon State was putting in its Cascades Campus; there were some issues with money and COCC experienced a financial shortfall. The first thing that was gutted in order to balance the budget: the fine arts department. It was pretty terrifying as a 20-year-old who had just moved to Bend in order to get a theater degree to have woken up one day and found out there was no longer a theater department.

Visual arts, theater arts and music are always the things that get affected first in times of crisis. Just look at COVID in Central Oregon as an example: restaurants, bars and movie theaters bounced back much more quickly than live theater and art galleries have. Here in Bend, we're lucky to have an astounding number of contemporary and fine art galleries that we absolutely take for granted. Two of the very best ones are even in the same basic location, nestled in the classic downtown Franklin Crossing building.

Peterson Contemporary Art recently moved into a larger space. - JARED RASIC
  • Jared Rasic
  • Peterson Contemporary Art recently moved into a larger space.

Peterson Contemporary Art is in the frontside of the building facing Bond Street and Scalehouse Gallery is on the backside in the historic Tin Pan Alley. PCA recently moved into the new 2,800-square-foot space and has greatly expanded its scope. PCA doesn't have any special events happening this month, but it is still celebrating in a myriad of ways.

"We are celebrating our fifth anniversary with an all-artist gallery hang," says PCA's Amy Conjerti. "We are also lining up our 2022 show schedule and will have calendars out in the mail and available in the next few weeks."

PCA has a very specific niche of how they curate. "We offer the best representation in a wide variety of established names from all over the country, regional and local," says Conjerti, "as well as Japan and Italy. With over 30 artists, we feel we have the strongest variety of contemporary art in Central Oregon."

Currently at Scalehouse is Jon Gann's exhibition "Infinity Splinters / Resttagebücher" which, according to Scalehouse's René Mitchell, "invites viewers into the artist's ongoing journey through trauma, shame and search for renewal. Through an obsessive layering process, Gann's mixed media works reveal a personal mythology of battling inner forces and alternate timelines.

Up next, from Jan. 7-Feb. 26, 2022, will be Danger Punch & FO(u)RT Collectives "Excuse Me: a Structural Device for Visual Communication."

In 2022, Scalehouse is also opening the Patricia Clark Studio in honor of the late local artist. According to Mitchell, "the Studio will honor Pat's legacy and her original vision of Scalehouse by providing free studio space to working artists, a space for arts education programming and a place to remember Pat. She gifted Scalehouse her collection of sketchbooks and selected arts which will be housed

Scalehouse will soon open a new studio in favor of late local artist Patricia Clark. - JARED RASIC
  • Jared Rasic
  • Scalehouse will soon open a new studio in favor of late local artist Patricia Clark.

 at the Studio."

The author Emily St. John Mandel, in her novel "Station Eleven," wrote in relation to living through a pandemic "Survival is insufficient" and nothing could possibly be more accurate. Enrichment of our lives and each other's lives through art, empathy, music and culture is what keeps us human and allows us to continue growing through a world that sometimes feels like last call was yelled and the lights are flickering on. Except we can't go home and we have to stay here.

PCA and Scalehouse are both very well aware of the importance of art in a time where the arts are almost treated as a frivolity or something disposable and impermanent. Conjerti elaborates: "Art is always important to keep us connected to each other through feelings, emotions and the joy that art brings to everyone."

Scalehouse Gallery's programming associate Stephanie Parnes also finds the perfect words to describe the importance of art in times of fear, stress and struggle: "Art is mind and world expanding. I think the ongoingness of COVID has tended to create a lot of mental ruts for people. Encountering art can disrupt the daily slog and shift the way you feel in your body and in your mind. It can spark new thoughts and feelings. It can be the impetus for a conversation with friends and family."

Art may be the first thing that gets cut in times of trouble, but aside from food, water and people, it's the last thing we can live without.

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