Life on the Dry Side

Culture, Curiosity and Character
about the Oregon East of the Cascade Mountian Range

Bend isn't just a cow-town any more...


I hadn't been to Bend for a few years, so last August I deceded to visit some old friends and check out the Art in the High Desert festival that was taking place in the Old Mill District.


A hundred years ago the sawmills Brooks-Scanlon and Shevin-Hixon migrated to the Pines of Central Oregon, bringing 2000 lumberjacks with them. Shevin Hixon was the second largest pine mill in the world.


Thirty years of producing at full capacity led to the decline of Oregon’s logging industry, but by the mid-1990s it went through significant redevelopment to become another icon to America, a mixed-use area known for its shops, galleries and restaurants.  Where logs once were floated down the descutes to the sawmills, paddleboards, tubers, kayaks and canoes skim the watery film.

Art in the high Desert is a nationally ranked art festival with artists coming from around the world. I stopped by four of the booths that represented photographers, and saw some really great work. Oregon Art Beat was giving artist talks.


Todd Langley with some of his signature silver prints.  "I use a toy camera called a Holga. It is plastic. Even the lens is plastic. One would be hard-pressed to find a cheaper, more poorly made device. I've been been lucky to have a very successful commercial career and now am excited about the places my crappy camera and craving for bad weather will take me"

Since I was in town I wanted to find out more about the art scene in Bend. People have been steadily moving to Bend for the last decade and it is now among the nation's fastest-growing cities.

Bend’s new Cultural Tourism Fund recently handed out $125,000 in cash grants to help market arts and cultural events like Atelier 6000's exhibition of the work of Edward Curtis, the High Desert Museum's artwork of the Great Depression and the Deschutes Public Library Foundation writer's appearances.

The newly forming MAKERS DISTRICT describes itself as being "On the Creative Side of the Tracks".  It is an industrial neighborhood showcasing local businesses who thrive on collaboration within the community.  It is walking distance from downtown Bend. Check it our on Facebook at

The 13th annual BendFilm Festival featured the opening night film by BendFilm alumnus and Portland-native Ian McCluskey with his latest documentary, Voyagers Without Trace


The First Friday Gallery Walk started over 20 years ago and is now a city-wide cultural event where music fills the streets, retail shops are open late, restaurants are overflowing.  

The galleries present art that is unique to the high desert created by some of the most notable artists in the country, and many artists are available to discuss their work.

Bend has a great Art in Public Places program, with art throughout the city.   It brings different artistic styles and ideas  to raise awareness for the arts and celebrate the natural landscape in Central Oregon.

York Times Bestselling Author Jane Kirkpatrick lives outside of Bend and I saw she was having a reading at the massive Barnes & Noble.  I had time for one more event so I stopped by and picked up a copy of her latest book The Road We Traveled, one woman's tale of travel to Oregon in a wagon train.

And last, I stopped to eat at a Bend landmark restaurant, Baldy's, and had the best BBCue I have ever eaten.  The menu fits right into cattle country, the prices are in the middle, and they sell their signature killer BBCue sauce. I took a few jars home as I headed West, back to the Valley.

Culture, Curiosity and Character
about the Oregon East of the Cascade Mountian Range

See You Next Month

Comments always welcome