A longtime artists' friendship leads to new ways for creativity to shape our future
By Ceili Cornelius
At Scalehouse in Bend, artists, creative thinkers, community leaders, scientists, engineers, teachers, students and concerned citizens are striving to shape the future through creativity. This collaborative brings together contemporary thinking from a range of perspectives to address complex challenges and opportunities that our future presents.
In 2011, Patricia Clark and René Mitchell cofounded Scalehouse Gallery, and the organization has operated as a nonprofit since 2013.
Clark, a beloved local artist and longtime arts advocate, master printmaker and teacher, died in November, but before her passing, Mitchell, executive director of Scalehouse, and staff members asked Clark if they had fulfilled her vision for a contemporary center for creativity.
“Patricia said, ‘Yes and no,’” said Mitchell. “We had fulfilled it with the programming and gallery, but for her, we were still missing the messy bits—the process of how the art gets made and seeing behind the curtain.”
That vision was brought to life with the opening of the Patricia Clark Studio earlier this month.
“It is an artist studio right next door to the gallery, named after her, that will be a place for artists to create their work and for the public to be able to see that process,” said Mitchell.
The Roundhouse Foundation helped to raise funds and provided a grant toward opening the brick-and-mortar space next to the gallery in downtown Bend, allowing artists-in-residence to have studio space in which to work for weeks at a time.
“It is really hard to find affordable studio space in Bend for artists, so we wanted to be able to have a space for artists to work and share their thinking with the world,” said Mitchell.
The Patricia Clark Studio opened with the exhibition “It’s no more than a blink of the eye: A Patricia Clark Retrospective,” exploring the prints, drawings, sketchbooks and creative practice of the prolific artist, deeply observant and influenced by nature. The exhibit runs through May 28.
“We did it as a retrospective honoring of Pat for the new studio,” said Mitchell. “She also gifted us her collection of art books. We really want to encourage the arts community to come into the space and experience it.”
Over the years, Scalehouse has explored new territory in culture for the region.
“No one had focused on contemporary arts or thinking in the area, so we decided to start with programming and collaborations with different types of artists and organizations in Central Oregon,” said Mitchell. “We are committed to programming that’s accessible yet provocative, extraordinary yet inclusive, and always with an eye toward a better future for all of us.”
Scalehouse and Roundhouse have been working together since the inception of the gallery.
Kathy Deggendorfer, an artist and founder and trustee of Roundhouse and Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts and Agriculture in Sisters, was a close friend of Clark’s. Mitchell said, “Kathy is a dear friend of Pat’s and I, and she would often share her wisdom and vision in the early days.”
The founding visions of Roundhouse and Scalehouse are similar—creating spaces and programs that allow art and expression to thrive and make a difference in the community.
“We’ve always been thrilled to have their endorsement and blessing with a lot of the things we’ve worked together on in our programs and exhibitions,” said Mitchell.
Scalehouse offers a range of programs and events, including Bend Design Week. It is inspired by global conferences that focus on how design, architecture and art is used to shape the world.
The gallery also works in collaboration with the BendFilm Festival, which celebrates independent cinema through films, lectures and educational events throughout the year. In 2019, Scalehouse partnered with BendFilm in screening the documentary “Meow Wolf: Origin Story,” which chronicles a group of rebellious artists in Santa Fe who become a successful DIY collective. It was followed by a panel discussion that included Deggendorfer as well as Elizabeth Woody, poet and executive director at the Museum at Warm Springs; Maise Speer, former artist in residency manager at Caldera, and Dana Whitelaw, executive director at the High Desert Museum. They discussed the impact of collective art in the community.
This year, Scalehouse is partnering with Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend for the Art + Words Literary Festival June 9 - 10 at Scalehouse Gallery and the college campus. The multi-disciplinary event brings together artists, writers, and performers to collaborate and to further their creative messages in the community, with panel discussions, performances, interactive art projects and workshops.
“A lot of our programming and collabs center around the idea of creativity shaping our future and addressing common issues our world is facing today and potentially changing perceptions of those issues through viewing art and design,” said Mitchell. “The gallery exhibits a variety of pieces from local artists all with a bold range of identities and perspectives. We often augment things we do in our programming through exhibitions in our gallery.”
Scalehouse and Roundhouse are also seeking to introduce the broader community to the Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts and Agriculture.
“We really want to encourage the Bend arts community to go out to Sisters and visit the ranch and see what they are doing and collaborate more with their artist-in-residence program,” said Mitchell. “We all have a similar vision and mission with artists to collaborate and work within communities to see a change in our rural communities. All of us at Scalehouse are grateful for what The Roundhouse Foundation does for arts and culture in our region and beyond.”
Clearly these efforts build on the work that Clark began in Central Oregon years ago, with strides made toward her final request to lift the curtain on the artistic process. At the same time, the creation of the Patricia Clark Studio sets the stage for yet more opportunities for the region to explore how to shape the future through creativity.