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A "Roundabout Art" Road Trip Guide

Roundabout art in Bend. - VISIT BEND
  • Visit Bend
  • Roundabout art in Bend.

Seen a giant red flaming chicken lately?

Or how about a massive grizzly bear lounging around town? Would it alarm you to learn that we've spotted both of these striking creatures in the middle of busy Bend intersections? Fear not. Neither one signals the beginnings of an environmental calamity. At least not yet. Instead, they're both proud members of an exclusive club: Bend's 25 roundabout art sculptures!

The first one appeared in 2001; the most recent arrived last spring. However, it's not always easy to catch a good glimpse since their unique locations require you to take your eyes off the road, which we all know is never a good thing (right?). Here's an idea: Turn spotting them into a fun family adventure! You can do it in one day or spread this excursion out over a couple of weekends.

We've divided the pieces up into three easy-to-navigate routes: The Inner Loop, The Outer Loop and The Eastside 6. Or you can design your very own path. Ready?

click to enlarge High Desert Spiral. - VISIT BEND
  • Visit Bend
  • High Desert Spiral.

The Inner Loop

Begin this section on Galveston Ave. and 14th St. with the aforementioned chicken, or as it's officially known, Phoenix Rising #1 (see map on page 34). Big, bright and bold, the piece is the perfect start for your trip. Next up is, oh, deer, Big Ears #2 (Simpson Ave. & 14th St.). It's a deer family that looks remarkably like the real thing—except you might find them wearing sunglasses (depending on the time of year, of course).

Now head west, toward the river, and get set for some aquatic attractions. Notice any "fish out of water?" You've arrived at Redsides #3 (Simpson Ave. & Colorado Ave.). Hammered out of carved steel and red wire, this piece depicts a school of (what else?) Deschutes-dwelling rainbow trout. They're cute. And thirsty. Then, it's a quick hop to Riverbend Park for Yakaya #4, where artist Troy Pillow used nine colorful kayaks to "create a union of ease between modern design and nature." And he picked the perfect spot.

Evolution. - VISIT BEND
  • Visit Bend
  • Evolution.

Take Columbia St. across the river and head north, where you'll find the eerie Ghost #5 (Bond St. & Wilson Ave.). It's actually made from an old crane and bucket once used to dredge the river, so logs could flow freely to the sawmill. Next, swing up Bond St. and curve left onto Industrial Way, where you'll soon spot Cogs #6, a piece that actually connects two smaller traffic circles. Yes, those are wheels that once helped keep the mill running.

The Outer Loop

There are 13 included in this section, but very conveniently arranged! Begin with Bueno Homage to the Buckaroo #7 (Newport Ave. & 9th St.), named for the artist's husband who was actually a real-life buckaroo with a horse named (what else?) "Bueno." Head west on Newport for the "three-in-one" Atilt, Sundra and Garden Gate #8 (14th St.). Hint: Don't try to figure out the "true" meaning; the artist invites viewers to invent their own stories.

Grizzly. - VISIT BEND
  • Visit Bend
  • Grizzly.

Continue on Newport/Shevlin Park Rd. for Migration #9 (College Way), a flock of birds paying tribute to those high-flying COCC students just up the hill; Earth Song #10 (NW Crossing) which consists of a series of seven 17-foot-high columns; as well as Milky Way #11 (Mt. Washington Dr.). Look closely here and you'll spot a solar panel on this one—providing energy to make the stainless-steel piece glow in a variety of colors at night.

Turn left onto Mt Washington Dr. for the next five: the totem-inspired Sunrise Spirit Column #12 (NW Crossing); Orb I #13 (Skyliners Rd.), which might remind you of a really cool-looking bowling ball; High Desert Spiral #14 (Simpson Ave.), the city's tallest public art sculpture at a towering 39 feet high; Mt. Bachelor Compass #15 (Century Dr.), a sort of "welcome back to Bend" greeting after a day on the slopes; and Sound Garden #16 (Reed Market Rd.), which depicts giant musical notes, if you hadn't already guessed from the name.

Might of the Workforce. - VISIT BEND
  • Visit Bend
  • Might of the Workforce.

Stay on Reed Market to catch artist Jerry Werner's spectacular duo, Centennial Planter #17 and Centennial Logger #18 (adjacent to Farewell Bend Park), both of which commemorate Bend's 100th anniversary, as well as the visually tricky, shape-shifting Lodestar (Brookswood Blvd.).

Want even more? Pick up a handy map/guide at Visit Bend, or download one at visitbend.com for in-depth descriptions as well as a look at The Eastside 6, stretching from Murphy Rd. north to Pine Nursery Park. The guide even contains a "Roundabout Quiz" for the kids—a completed version of which will earn you a Roundabout Art Route souvenir!

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