by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Bend becomes transformed in the spring. Blooming flowers and trees frame the Deschutes as paddlers take to the river and walkers and runners enjoy the warmer temperatures. The Old Mill District has experienced its own transformation with the creation of colorful murals on the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Muralist Erin Sayer has covered the blank slate of the Amphitheater with color, and yes, the discerning eye will see hops in her design, a tribute to our blossoming brewing culture. A large crow is the centerpiece to the mural, as Sayer explained, “I kept seeing crows and having conversations about them. While I was in Seattle one crow just kept hanging out at my friend’s deck…and I have never painted a really big bird before, so it’s fun doing something new.”
The project was spearheaded by the Old Mill District and Amphitheater Director Marney Smith, who gave Sayer free range in topic and color. “The Amphitheater stage is such an amazing canvas,” Sayer said. “I know a lot of people look at the stage, and I wanted it to be bright.”
“We have artists come from all over to perform at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The town and the venue are beautiful, but if an artist is in the middle of a 50 stop tour and doesn’t have time to explore the offerings of Central Oregon, we want to make it easy for them to remember us,” said Smith in recent press. “And moreover, the back of the stage is just a giant canvas begging for art.”
The mural has been evolving since early May when the artist began outlining and planning her design. Daily visitors to the Old Mill District have delighted in seeing the design emerge, often with Sayer hand painting and using stencils mid-air via an aerial lift.
As an artist, Sayer has created over 30 different murals, often evocative of street art or in a graffiti style. She ran a popular gallery, Cult Status, in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the past three years, and brought the art of 20 artists to a special show in May at the Old Mill White House behind the Amphitheater. She has taken her Cult Status Gallery tour to Portland and Seattle, with Bend as the final stop in the tour.
“I brought the art with me from Minneapolis,” she said. “It’s mostly street art based, I love the genre so much, I feel like I’m creating collectors for the future.”
Sayer has also painted the stage-side of the Amphitheater with a large honey bee and is planning to return in August for the Bend Brewfest.