by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher
Over the past two decades I have tried to position this magazine as a cultural wake up call to our community as to the importance and significance of the beauty of our region captured in diverse artwork from painting, pottery and sculptures to murals and wearable art, heard aloud from poets and writers in the local music scene from country, blues and hip hop to our theatrical successes at the Tower Theatre, 2nd Street, Bend Experimental Art Theatre and Cascades Theatrical Company.
In the early days of Cascade A&E few gave credence to the importance of the local art scene let alone to the economic value that the creative community provides to our region. We were not talking about research that demonstrates that creativity increases test scores, generates social responsibility and can turn a failing student into a success story. We just wanted people to know that our lifestyle is better served with a vibrant arts community.
During a recent taping of State of Wonder on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), the host Emily Carr asked Pat Clark of Atelier 6000 (A6) and me about what the recession did to Central Oregon’s arts scene. Pat and I looked at each other and smiled knowing full well the toll it took on nearly everyone in Central Oregon and how the arts suffered with decreasing budgets for arts organizations and the struggles that galleries and artists went though.
But we smiled because we know that time and hard work changes everything and that through diversity comes new awareness and creativity. Under Pat’s leadership and during the recession Atelier made a shift in its mission that forged a new relationship with arts education and cultivated (among other things) in the enormously successful M. C. Escher art exhibit with his genius woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints that inspired local students.
Artists are not to be deterred in their pursuit of their craft. It seems that for every gallery that closes two more open. Most of the arts organizations in Central Oregon have fully survived the recession and more are beginning and thriving including BendFilm, Sunriver Music Festival, Scalehouse, Art on the High Desert, Arts Central, Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild, Songwriters Association, Sisters Folk Festival, Quilt Show, Central Oregon Symphony, High Desert Chamber Music, Jefferson County Art Association, Arts & Culture Alliance and of course the museums (Bowman, High Desert, Des Chutes Historical and Warm Springs).
Art in Public Places has been an enormous contributor to Bend’s art resurgence utilizing public art (especially throughout our roundabouts) to enhance the cultural environment and encourage visitors to our area. And of course, thanks to Visit Bend, we now have a Cultural Tourism Fund that will promote arts and cultural programs to enhance Bend’s tourism economy.
On OPB Pat said that A6 is now a gathering place with artists, students and patrons touching base. She has seen a change and emphasis on aesthetics that she thought would never be possible. We both agreed that the recession resulted in some good things: a repositioning of people back into education and people losing traditional jobs becoming creative with their skills (from construction worker to metal artist).
And now? One final note that was said on OPB: Bend has arrived. We are not just a recreational paradise, we are an arts community from Last Saturday at the Old Ironworks to First Friday in downtown Bend, and it has had a rippling effect on our surrounding communities who are developing their own festivals, roundabouts and artwalks.
It’s a complex and multilayered culture, one we can be very proud to call home.