I saw a patch of blue in the smoke-filled landscape today. Air quality is hazardous and skies are smoky over Bend, Oregon, but one of my notoriously camera-shy mountain bluebirds paused for a portrait. I needed that today! My main computer decided it no longer wanted to wake up from sleep mode.
Here is the air quality reading yesterday afternoon over Bend.
Here are the readings from in and around Bend yesterday.
Fires are far from Bend, but wind blew smoke our way.
Wildfires are raging over much of the west. We are looking forward to a little rain this week.
Thanks to the firefighters at work on these fires! May they find their own patch of blue.
Last year we started to create a new garden space in our backyard. After a lot of work, it’s looking like a garden of plenty now.
This is how it looked several years ago when we bought the place. The house included a fenced dog run with a heated doghouse.
Some of the beds in our newly-created garden are bordered by rocks collected on our property, and others are store bought. Smaller rocks we collected on our rock hounding adventures decorate the edges of the raised beds. See the obsidian from Glass Buttes?
What’s growing in our garden
This year we have lots of flowers filling in the spaces between the fruits and vegetables. The flowers include sunflowers, Bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum, clematis, hollyhocks, nasturtium, and poppies.
The sunflowers grew so tall, we had to clip through the bird netting to allow them to reach their full height.
We’ve had a great crop of veggies including kohlrabi, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.
The raspberries we put in last year are finally producing. We had a few strawberries this year in the garden and they were tasty and sweet.
The garden is fenced with two kinds of fencing and bird netting, but we still find unexpected visitors. This tree frog looked very comfortable around the beet plants.
Our fruit and vegetable garden has filled out and the rest of the landscaping has too. Here’s what it looks like now.
The spruce trees are huge and the birds love them. The Russian sage, the large shrub with purple flowers in the middle of the picture, is more than six feet tall.
Like many of you out there, we are putting more time into gardening this year. Our repurposed dog run has been transformed into a garden of plenty.
This draft horse standing within three large circles of steel is by Devin Laurence Field. Horses played an integral role in Bend’s logging industry. Devin painstakingly constructs each steel piece in a process that includes cutting, forging, pressing, welding, grounding and polishing. This sculpture is in a roundabout in the northeast part of Bend.
Artist Danae Bennett-Miller drew her inspiration for this piece from her husband, who was a buckaroo. “Buckaroo” is an Anglicized version of the Spanish word vaquero, which means cowboy. Danae created this piece using a lost wax method of casting with bronze and glass. This piece is in a roundabout on the west side of Bend.
This sculpture of two draft horses pulling logs pays homage to the importance of the logging industry in Bend’s past. It’s by Greg Congleton and it’s in Farewell Bend Park. It’s constructed of many surprising metal pieces including gears & sprockets, spoons, a garden hoe, and a 1923 Oregon license plate.
This sculpture is also by Greg Congleton. It’s located right outside the Tumalo Art Co. gallery. Greg grew up on a cattle farm in Paulina, Oregon and draws on that background for his creations. According to Greg, he’s been told that he’s “a strange mixture of artist, architect, engineer, and humorist.” Yes, I agree!
If you like outdoor art, be sure to check out the outdoor horse sculptures in Bend. They are fantastic! 😀
Last February I was happy to see the Central Oregon Light Art exhibition lighting up winter nights in Bend. Oregon WinterFest has food, beer, and music like other events, but it’s also a showcase for artists. I have photographed the Fire Pit Competition (one of my favorite events!) and the Ice Sculpture Competition in the past. Central Oregon Light Art was added in 2019. I was surprised and impressed with what I saw this year.
This one looked nice in the daylight but look at how it changes at night.
This one reminded me of blue barber’s pole.
A multi-colored suspended piece with a ghostly sculpture in the background.
A simple and bold piece.
An outline of a person. I think I liked this one the best. The guy walking behind it warned me he was going to photo bomb me and I told him he’d be on my blog. 😀
This piece is like a graceful lighted wind chime.
A tree lighted up in cool colors. The flag bridge is in the background.
The temperature that night was cold, but I was glad to have the opportunity to see these works of art lighting up winter nights.
When I walk my dog in the Old Mill district, I always smile when I see the art at the amphitheater. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is the main venue for large events in Bend, Oregon. Minneapolis artist, Erin Sayer, painted the crow on one side of the stage and the owl on the other.
Fellow Minneapolis artist, Yuya Negishi, assisted her. Yuya painted a dragon mural on the side of a building across the river and another mural on a staircase.
Even the utility boxes are painted.
There’s a big, open field in front of the stage.
The Deschutes River runs behind the stage. Here’s a view from across the river. Those silos on the right side belong to Deschutes Brewery.
Events are temporarily postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus. Huge crowds, such as these seen at Bend Brewfest, often fill the fields at events.
The flower border along one side of the field is spectacular at certain times of the year.
Accommodations for entertainers at this venue are unique. They are old boxcars resting on a section of train track. You can see the old train station, built in 1911, across the street.
Here’s a closer view of the train station on a winter day. Now it’s the Art Station, managed by Bend Park and Recreation District. It offers art classes for adults and children.
Art at the Amphitheater shows up in many forms including murals, concerts, colorful flower borders, art classes, and locally brewed beers. 😀
Here is a crow feather on scratchboard I created long ago in a scientific illustration course.
On the first Friday of every month, the city of Bend usually hosts an art walk through the galleries in town. The galleries serve snacks and drinks and highlight local artists. Since the First Friday event is not happening this month, I thought I would share a piece of my own art.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? You can include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
We recently visited a newish bakery for a cup of coffee and a sweet. This sweet spot has a good variety of sweets and beautiful artwork.
Check out this large mural full of flora and fauna. Find out more about the six artists that helped create the artwork in this space here.
The front counter has bold black and white tilework.
Even the storage areas are painted. I loved the fox peeking out and the figurine on the top.
Even the light fixtures are works of art. Can you see what the railing in the loft is made from? Rolling pins!
Here’s the view from outside. This bakery is located in the Box Factory area of Bend.
In the early 1900s, there was a box making factory here. Now this sweet spot, restaurants, a cider manufacturer, a make-your-own-beer business, an exercise studio, a tourism company, and stores fill the building.
Last weekend we visited the Oregon WinterFest event in Bend. I always look forward to seeing the fire pits and there were over 20 entries this year.
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) this week is Treasure Hunt. I thought the fire pits fit perfectly under the suggested topic of “something hot.” Here are a few of the sculptures I saw at the WinterFest event.
A scaly tree holding a suspended ball of fire
This one looked like kindling hovering over a fire
Tall and graceful, reaching for the sky
This triangular one had flames that pulsed to the music
A salmon leaping above the flames
Cattails swaying in the breeze
A cyclone of spinning metal
The reflective discs spun with the slightest breeze so this one was always in motion
This one reminds me of the space needle in Seattle
Mountains and their wildlife in a lovely panoramic display
See my recent That’s some Pig! post for one more of these amazing fire pit sculptures.
I’m impressed by the artists that create these works. The sculptures have to look great and be fully functional as a fire pit. Not an easy task!
Did you know there are secret rooms at McMenamins Old St Francis in Bend? Here are pictures of two of the blacklight rooms with their secret blue views.
You can’t get into to the rooms through a traditional door. You have to find special panels in the hallway and push them in just the right spot.
The secret blue views inspired me to write microfiction stories related to each room.
On the night of the harvest moon, trees in a hidden forest create plump blue and red fruit. Jackrabbits venture into the forest, searching for the red fruit. They nibble on their magic and dance until the sun rises and the fruit disappears.
I am lost in a deep blue forest. Hanging crystals appear to light the way, so I follow them, turning to the left and right. I can’t find my way. Slumping against a tree trunk, I turn my gaze towards the sky. Then I notice it—a heart of branches leading to the true path. I am found.
A beautiful October walk along the Mill A Loop Trail in Bend, Oregon. The rising sun’s rays highlight gold and red fall foliage. The sunlight was hitting the trees just right on this autumn walk.
An American flag flies from one of the Old Mill smokestacks. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) renovated the 28,000-square-foot former lumber mill and opened a retail store there in 2005. They retained much of the building’s historic charm and it’s one of Bend’s iconic landmarks.
This pub art at Silver Moon Brewing captures many of the iconic landmarks of Bend, Oregon. Artist Natalie Fletcher included Smith Rock in the background flanked by the Painted Hills on the left and Mt Bachelor on the right. The Deschutes River winds through the scene.
Can you see the source of the river? An overflowing glass of beer of course. Little Lava Lake is the “real” source and it’s a great place for kayaking.
This mural shows the Les Schwab Amphitheater on the left. It’s packed with people attending one of our many outdoor events.
Phil’s Trail is in the left forefront. It’s a favorite of mountain bikers.
In the right forefront you can see the Tower Theater. This small venue has been lovingly restored. On the marquee the featured film is “The Beer Fairies.” There is a tiny fairy hidden on the right side of the mural.
This pub art at Silver Moon captures many of the things that make this place great. The beer there is good too.
Silver Moon’s sense of humor is reflected in parts of this mural and also on their website. Here’s a quote from the site:
I often walk through this “Tunnel of Joy” by the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. I call it that because the bright artwork is so joyful. I’ve previously featured one side of the bridge and the other but never the inside of the tunnel.
The abstract painting lining the tunnel is by artist, Tom Cramer. He works in a variety of media and is one of the most successful artists currently working in Portland, Oregon. His best-known mural was “Machine”, painted in 1989.
At first this mural appears to just be random shapes, but if you look closer you may notice shapes you recognize. I see faces, hearts, snakes, and wings. You can use your imagination to find objects in an abstract work of art.
I’m thankful the city of Bend supported the creation of this Tunnel of Joy to make all of our days a little brighter.
The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.
I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.
Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.
They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.
Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.
Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).
They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.
Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.
Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.