Streets Become Innovative Galleries for Public Sculpture
Over the years, the outdoor public art in Bend has become just as much of the view and landscape as the Cascade Mountain Range. There are now 24 permanent roundabout art installations and several sculptures of various mediums tucked around the city. Since 1973, Art in Public Places (AiPP) has been transforming Bend into a place where residents and visitors can experience unique, high-caliber art all year round. AiPP’s board of directors and selection committee is comprised of longstanding Bend residents, Sandy Cummings, Cristy Lanfri, René Mitchell, Romy Mortensen, Sue Hollern, Jody Ward and Dana Whitelaw. The goals and vision of the nonprofit group were and are the same today, “To continue to grow Bend’s collection of public art in real, expansive and meaningful ways.” AiPP is funded by generous private donations, Be Part of Art, and the Bend Foundation, the philanthropic division of Brooks Resources Corporation. Funds are allocated for permits, landscaping maintenance and to pay the commissioned artist. Each piece of art undergoes a very lengthy and extensive vetting process to determine the prolonged value to the Bend community. Level of artistic excellence, interactivity, innovative qualities, originality, durability and the ability to enhance a particular natural landscape or enliven a specific public space are considerations included in the selection process. Once an area is permitted for an installation, the selection committee narrows their decision to three finalists. The finalists then present their proposed piece in the form of a miniature model. While artistry, structural integrity and budget rank as the most important criteria during the final stages of the decision process, location, social environment and public input are also taken into account. Once a piece is chosen, it is introduced to the public and the installation process begins. The roundabout sculptures in particular have been honored by Americans for the Arts as, “One of the most innovative approaches to art in the country.” The following pieces are some of Bend’s most amazing treasures. ArtinPublicPlaces.org
Location: Wilson & Bond Streets
Artists: Andrew Wachs and Erik Gerding
This piece was donated by William Smith, the developer of the Old Mill District. This “sculpture” pays homage to the lumber mill history in Bend and consists of a crane and dredge bucket to mimic the dredging of the old mill pond. The dredge bucket is the original one used by the Mill. The half-buried state of the crane house has been interpreted in two ways: either rising or subsiding. Rising, as with the Old Mill transformation, or subsiding, as the fading past.
Location: Entrance to Pine Nursery Park & Sports Complex
Artist: Gloria Bornstein
Bornstein describes Kickoff as, “An exuberant sculpture for the roundabout that announces the entrance to the Pine Nursery Park and celebrates ‘the start of the game.’ The artwork is inspired by the high energy sports activities going on in the park and the various recreational experiences that people enjoy in the region.” Bornstein was inspired by the ancient and beautiful volcanic landscape of Central Oregon and wanted to merge that landscape with human energy and the community. Kickoff reminds us that art can truly be appreciated everywhere.
Sunrise Spirit Column, 2001
Location: Mt. Washington Drive and Northwest Crossing Drive
Artist: David Govedare
This piece, made of basalt, granite, steel and copper is suggestive of an ancient totem with contemporary pictographs including deer, a skier, and a television. It might take a few rounds to see them become evident, but the images give the piece an entirely new meaning. In the words of the artist, whose father taught him to arc weld at ten years old, “I like to see sculpture outdoors, highlighting different places. Even places that don’t seem special, they’re made special just by having art there.”
Orb I, 2005
Location: Mt. Washington Drive and Skyliners Road
Artist: Brandon Zebold
If you drive too fast, you’ll miss this one. The 6-foot metal sphere has been compared to a giant’s bowling ball heading from the Phil’s Trail complex downhill toward the Deschutes River. This piece was created with an oxyacetylene torch on steel by an artist who approaches making art in a, “Serious yet playful way.” Zebold, who had an early passion for drawing, often uses reclaimed and recycled metal from scrapyards for his projects.
Sound Garden, 2010
Location: Reed Market Road and Mt. Bachelor Drive
Artist: Lee Kelly
Award-winning artist and author, Lee Kelly is one of the premier artists of the Pacific Northwest. He leveraged his 50-plus years of sculpting experience to create Sound Garden, a stainless steel representation of organic musical notes rising above native plants and trees of Central Oregon. Kelly spent several years traveling the world to fuel his love of art, architecture, and high altitude adventure and mimics this in many of his pieces. Sound Garden is inspired by a sculpture the Art in Public Places selection committee viewed and admired in Kelly’s personal collection.