The Story Behind Bend's Roundabout Art 4

How Beautiful Sculptures Come to Make Their Home in Our City Streets

If you’ve driven through one of the many roundabouts in Bend or turned a corner downtown, chances are you’ve seen some of our city’s impressive outdoor art sculptures. If you don’t fancy what you see, “Keep driving,” says Jody Ward, one of the founding members of Art in Public Places (AiPP), “you’re bound to see something you like.”

The imaginative, local non-profit AiPP began in 1967. The organization is responsible for the installment of 45 visionary indoor and outdoor sculptures throughout the city—including 22 pieces in our roundabouts—for locals and visitors to enjoy year-round. AiPP’s financial support comes from the Bend Foundation as well as generous private donations. These funds pay the commissioned artists, and are allocated for landscaping maintenance and any special permits needed.

AiPP’s Selection Committee is a group of long-time art appreciators with deep roots in the local art community. Co-founder and senior committee member Sue Hollern has been in Bend for over 50 years and agrees with Ward that, “Bend is a beautiful back drop, we’d love to see public art in more places all over the city.”

The roundabout sculptures in Bend are very unique and have been honored by Americans for the Arts “as one of the most innovative approaches to art in the country.” Once an area is cleared for an installation, the Selection Committee has the arduous process of narrowing their decision to three finalists. The finalists then present their proposed project—in the form of a miniature model of their entry. While artistry, structural integrity and budget rank as the most important criteria during the consideration process, location, social environment and public input are also taken into account.

“We have very lengthy and technical discussions,” says Ward, “yet we’ve always come to a unanimous decision.”

Local Favorites

Grizzly sits near Bend Senior High School, at the corner of Franklin Avenue and 8th Street, and was created by Montana-based Sherry Sander as the first roundabout art installation in 2001. It’s easy to see why Sander refers to the adventurous nature of wild animals she’s witnessed across the globe as her main inspiration.

Local artist Jerry Werner created two of Bend’s most popular landmarks in the Centennial Planter and Centennial Logger. These eight-foot bronze sculptures, installed at the roundabouts along Reed Market Road near Farewell Bend Park, depict the story of logging from planting to harvesting. The crafting of these sculptures in 2004 also commemorated the one-hundred year anniversary of the city of Bend.

When driving the length of Mount Washington Drive at night, it’s impossible to miss the illuminating Milky Way, at the Mount Washington Drive and Shevlin Park Road roundabout. Portland’s Devin Field fabricated stainless steel with an internal solar panel and interchanging multi-colored LED lights to create this magnificent structure that guides many of us home at night. Field’s inspiration for his large-scale metal sculptures all convey “the complex relationship between the built environment and the natural world.”

Bowing its mighty head at the Newport and 9th, Bueno: Homage to the Buckaroo, a sculpture by Tumalo artist Danae Bennett Miller, is one of Bend’s most unique pieces for its unexpected stance and lost wax process. This sculpture is dedicated to the spirit of the Buckaroo (from the Spanish word Vaquero) tradition Miller first experienced on a family ranch near Frenchglen, Oregon. Her one-of-a-kind sculptures using the lost wax method of casting with bronze and glass are inspired by the ranch animals and wildlife surrounding her every day.

Coming Soon

Gilded River, to be located at Murphy Road and Third Street, will join Bend’s amazing roundabout art collection this summer. The combined efforts of Mark Baltes, Leslie Dixon and Ken McCall were inspired by the autumn beauty of fluttering, gold Aspen leaves that line our streets and river banks. This sculpture will combine several different materials and has a unique kinetic element of over a thousand moving parts guided by the wind. With ten stylized trees, this new addition will give south side drivers an incredible view from all angles.

Hollern recounts her fondest 
memories as, “the gift of working with great women, artists and supporters of Art in Public Places. Also, remembering all the wonderful 
comments after each installation 
and the joy of successfully completing each project.”

For a complete list of roundabout art and all of Bend’s public art, visit ArtInPublicPlaces.org or VisitBend.com.