One of the more interesting events I’ve been to in recent months was staged in a most unusual location. I had traveled to Portland, Oregon to visit a couple of galleries. While there it was brought to my attention that there was a very unique showroom in a small town called Bend. Since it was only a few hours away and the drive was supposed to be beautiful, I decided to make the trek.
Bend is located in the central part of the state of Oregon. It is nestled against the cascade mountains and has become known throughout the country as a haven for beer lovers. With over 12 breweries in a relatively small geographic area it truly does seem like the beer capitol of the west coast.
But it is also known for it’s highly diverse art community. Considering the population of this area is only about 80,000 there are a remarkable number of artists. And on top of that, the town itself is highly supportive of these artists.
One location in particular that is very interesting is the Workhouse. The building in which it is located is an old iron works. Back in the days of Bend being a lumber industry town the iron works provided all the necessary hardware for the workers in this trade. The building has since been put to an entirely different use.
The outside of the building remains little changed. But on the inside what used to be a factory floor has been converted into a space for local artists to work and showcase their pieces. The floor is divided up amongst 10 spaces, each the area of an individual artists. And the common spaces showcase their work in a retail type setting.
The art ranges from clothing and fabric, leather, jewelry, and even metal work. The metal artist in particular had some amazing pieces. One piece that really caught my attention was a custom iPhone case that he had created from salvaged metal. He uses a wide range of machinist tools more commonly found in an auto body shop than an artists studio.
This little gem of a studio was quite a pleasant surprise on this trip. There is even a local bakery located in what used to be the accounting office of the ironworks. The had some amazing looking pastries and treats. Although I was good and able to stick to my Paleo diet even with all of these delicious looking temptations.