Ready to celebrate a new month? If so, you might want to go to Bend, Oregon for the First Friday event. Every month select businesses keep their doors open late in support of the arts. Businesses in the downtown and Old Mill areas host artists while galleries feature the latest exhibits. This month Willow Lane Artist’s Creative Space joined First Friday for the first time.
As you walk around the area, you can stop in to view the art and get free drinks and snacks at the participating businesses. Some also have live music. It’s a popular event so get there early. We went a couple nights ago and the cool temperatures helped make the crowds a little smaller.
You never know what you will find at this event. One summer night we saw a young boy standing on a street corner putting out some amazing music on his fiddle. Just around the corner from him, a craftsman displayed his handmade leather works. Just across the street from them, a couple guys strummed on their guitars as they sang. Many passerbys stopped to admire the work of these artisans.
In the small downtown area, you can walk to a variety of galleries. One of my favorites is Red Chair Gallery. I always like looking at the wood boxes and carved pieces in this place. Mockingbird Gallery is the largest gallery downtown. They always have interesting metal sculptures there. Stunning nature photographs can be found at Jeffrey Murray Fine Art Photography. Multimedia artist Mary Medrano, known for her portrayals of animals, and jewelry artist Karen Bandy both work from studios downtown. Be sure to stop in the two frame shops downtown, High Desert Frameworks and Sage Custom Framing & Gallery, to look at their featured artists.
In the Old Mill district you can visit a gallery, a stained glass business, and a fiber artist studio. A large metal sculpture by local artist Greg Congleton can be found right outside the The Tumalo Art Co. There are a wide variety of artists showing their work inside the gallery. The DeWilde Art Glass studio is interesting because it’s housed in a 1912 building. The Little Red Shed was moved from nearby and was here when this site hosted two lumber mills. Lubbesmeyer Studio & Gallery features amazing fiber works by twin sisters Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer. They do detailed work that looks like wonderfully textured paintings.
The First Friday gallery walk was created more than 20 years ago by the Bend Gallery Association. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of the local art scene in an entertaining way.