(Ray Trayle Etching Press | Photo courtesy of Bend Art Center)
You may think a town like Bend would be too small to support an art center. Thankfully, that’s not true. Bend is home to a thriving art scene and is bolstered by nonprofit organizations like Bend Art Center that serve as a hub for artists and art lovers. An important stop on the First Friday circuit, monthly exhibits provide a wide variety of art forms, including prints, paintings, sculpture and mixed media.
For local artists, Bend Art Center is a major source for professional development. It houses the A6 Studio, the only public studio for printmaking in Central Oregon. A6 Studio provides instruction in printmaking, drawing, book arts, and 2D mixed media, and it regularly invites world-class visiting artists to teach workshops and exhibit.
Artists are supported professionally not only with a place to make their art and learn new skills, but also to network and exhibit art. “I appreciate the camaraderie and exchange of ideas and techniques that come from being involved with Bend Art Center as a studio member,” says local artist Adell Shetterly.
Bend Art Center not only serves artists — a thriving education program provides art instruction to inexperienced adults interested in art. Introductory workshops encourage participants to think creatively and learn new artmaking skills. “My favorite part of being a volunteer is inviting people to make art who might not otherwise consider themselves artists,” says Helen Loeffler.
The Center’s school programs provide arts education to students both in the Bend area and in remote parts of Central Oregon, some for at little or no cost to schools. An Exhibit+Studio program invites students to view exhibits, learn about the work, and then create their own art using the printing presses. For schools that cannot visit the Center, instructors bring exhibit-based curriculum into the classroom. This program is a unique opportunity for students to experience an art exhibit and make their own art at the same time.
Special events include artist lectures and a monthly Cheers to Art to learn about historical artists and drink wine. The literary arts have a presence through poetry and book readings. Art exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists provide an unparalleled opportunity for the public to increase their cultural awareness and appreciation of the world.
Founded in 2007 as Atelier 6000 (A6), Bend Art Center began as Central Oregon’s only printmaking studio, serving as an important resource and work space for local artists. In 2012, A6 became a nonprofit and began serving the greater community. In 2017, the organization changed its name to Bend Art Center to better reflect its expanding purpose in the region to improve equity and access to the visual arts, arts education, and art making for all Central Oregonians.
The Center is the only nonprofit in Central Oregon offering both a formal exhibit space and professional art studio. This unique combination has enabled the Center to develop multifaceted programming that increases community access to the arts by providing education programs, exhibitions, studio workshops, art lectures and free events.