At the Bend Visitor Center, we not only allow people to draw on the walls—we encourage it!
Once a year, Visit Bend chooses a local artist to create unique chalk drawings on the cement pillars in the Visitor Center lobby. The artist also has his or her framed work displayed and sold in the Visitor Center for the duration of his or her show. It’s part of the Pillars of Art program, which was created to introduce tourists to Bend’s unique arts and culture scene, and to support emerging local artists.
The newest Pillars of Art creator is Megan Phallon. For her Pillars of Art installment, she created an array of scenes featuring Central Oregon landmarks and landscapes. There’s even a hat-tip to Bend’s craft brewing industry and dog-friendly nature!
You can see Megan’s work at the Bend Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We caught up with Megan recently and asked a few questions about her art, her life, and everything in between. Here’s what she shared with us:
Visit Bend: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in Bend?
Megan: I grew up mainly in Northern California, but I’ve also lived in South Dakota, Utah, Minnesota, and in the Caribbean. We moved to the Bend area to look for change from the desert. More of a small town artsy vibe.
Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.
Megan: I’m a self-trained artist, and I’ve joked with friends that I have no idea if I’m doing any of it right. I’ve loved art since I was a kid.
I started doing commissioned artwork about eleven years ago after I’d done some paintings on my friends’ kids’ walls. After that I started getting requests. I took it slowly when I lived in Utah — just, thematically, my stuff’s a little odd. I love surrealism and bright colors, but at the time I lived in Southern Utah, which was just landscape or religious art.
I just kind of put it on the back burner for a couple of years, and then we moved out of the country to the Caribbean. The last place I lived there was in the Dominican Republic. We had a ton of street artists who would come over from Haiti, and they loved the school-bus yellows and reds and oranges and blues. They were just so refreshing after living around very kind of oatmeal landscapes in many ways. I loved the mixture of colors.
Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?
Megan: I love surrealist art. I have narcolepsy, which causes excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness and occasional hallucinations. Very vivid dreams are part of the nervous disorder. I dream in sight, sounds, audio and visual, and even have sense hallucinations, which sounds really creepy. I see things from my dreams when I open my eyes. My dream-world sometimes blurs with reality, and when I channel that into my art, it results in vivid, surreal images with bright colors.
Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?
Megan: I really like to work with acrylic, but I also enjoy pen and ink and charcoal.
Visit Bend: Who are your artistic influences?
Megan: I like Kyle P. Stuart, as well as several local artists, August Vielle, and Roxanne Patruznick, and Cristiano Tweny.
Visit Bend: What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?
Megan: I love the Bend area! I live in Sisters where there’s a mix of people from every side of the country and the locals are intent on getting the best of life for themselves and their families and pets.
Living in Bend is to be inspired every day. The high contrast between the soft yellow fields and the sharp jagged snow-covered mountains and trees is stunning.
Visit Bend: What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?
Megan: When I’m not painting, I enjoy spending time with my two sons, ages 15 and 12. They both love climbing and mountain biking.
I love running and coming up with inventions. And of course, napping, because of my narcolepsy!
Visit Bend: What’s your impression of the Bend art scene, and how do you think the Pillars of Art program fits with that?
Megan: I appreciate the variety of local artists here. For small area, there’s some phenomenal representation.
The pillars are interesting because many of us are not used to working with chalk, so it helps us to express ourselves in a different way and to learn from it. I like the pillars because it reminds people to look at the ordinary and imagine the beautiful.