Bend is an art lover’s town. The galleries of Bend present art that is unique to the high desert, created by some of the most notable artists in the country.
On the first Friday of every month, Bend residents and visitors alike celebrate the art community by “hopping” from one gallery to another, sharing wine and stories and enjoying the variety of new art pieces showcased in each location. During First Friday Art Walk, music fills the streets, retail shops are open late, restaurants are overflowing, and many artists are available to discuss their work. Festivities in downtown Bend get underway at 5 p.m., but if you want an earlier start, the galleries in the Old Mill District kick things off at 4 p.m. That means you can browse Old Mill hotspots before heading downtown to nab dinner and enjoy some more art hopping!
For more information on First Fridays, gallery locations and specialties, visit the Bend Gallery Association website or visit member galleries and pick up a copy of the Bend Gallery Guide.
Art lovers will be delighted to find that art is not just confined to galleries in Bend; it is everywhere you look. Thanks to a public initiative called Art in Public Places. Bend is home to 39 pieces of original public art on display in prominent locations through the city, ranging from a flying phoenix at 14th & Galveston to a bronze sculpture of dancing salmon outside the Bend Public Library. In 2005, Americans for the Arts honored these sculptures as being among the most innovative approaches to public art in the country.
Enjoy the gallery experience outside with the Art in the High Desert Festival every year at the end of August on the shores of the Deschutes River. More than 100 juried artists from around the country display their ceramics, paint, photography, sculpture, jewelry, glass, wood, and fiber arts. The festival organizers believe much of the success of the festival is due to the growing cultural reputation of the city as a destination for the arts.