Inside Hawthorne Gallery in Port Orford, you could easily forget you’re in a small Oregon Coast town mostly known for fishing, lumber and its beautifully rugged shoreline. Bold large-scale abstract paintings brighten the walls of the contemporary space. Colorful blown glass vessels stand tall on pedestals. Striking modern sculpture, ranging from ceramic to bronze and hand-forged iron, are displayed by oversized picture windows.
The gallery is just one of the creative surprises you’ll discover traveling between Port Orford and Bandon. On the Port Orford to Bandon Art Trail, you’ll also find monumental public art, one of the nation’s most celebrated arts projects designed to raise awareness of environmental issues and small galleries featuring talented local artists.
Hawthorne Gallery is a great place to start your art trail tour. The gallery features high ceilings and more than 5,000 square feet, offering a beautifully uncrowded setting for the art including many large-scale pieces.
Much of the art is from the extended Hawthorne family, among them Chris Hawthorne who is a glass artist and Port Orford resident; and brother Greg Hawthorne, a painter and sculptor. There are nationally known artists represented in the gallery too.
The gallery features work by Albert Paley whose monumental iron and steel sculptures can be found in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. Look for his forged steel furniture that is both sculptural and functional.
The Hawthorne family also operates the adjacent Redfish restaurant, the place in Port Orford to enjoy fine dining and ocean views; and The Loft, a luxury suite overlooking this spectacular stretch of the Pacific Ocean. For anyone looking for a peaceful and natural retreat in Port Orford as a base for their art trail travels, WildSpring Guest Habitat is just a two-minute drive away and features five elegantly furnished cabins in a forested setting with outdoor art around every bend of the walking trails on this unique property.
Visitors who take the time to further explore the town of Port Orford will find it has a thriving arts community.
Nine galleries and artist’s studios are located in Port Orford, pretty impressive for a town of about 1,100.
Seek out these unique spaces including TriAngle Square Art featuring local painters and changing exhibitions of guest artists; Good Feather Gallery featuring the mosaic sculptural work of Nina Marie Ventra; and Cook Gallery, showcasing the Northwest Craftsman style custom-crafted wood furniture by Port Orford’s Rick Cook.
Before you leave Port Orford, take some time to check out the public art. It includes a mosaic tile bulwark and bench at the ocean view overlook on 5th Street. Just follow the Ocean View sign painted in the middle of Oregon Street to find it. There are also several outdoor murals painted in locations all around town.
As you make the half-hour drive north towards Bandon, you may want to consider several other stops including three shops that showcase products made from famous Oregon Myrtlewood:
- A&T Myrtlewood
- Zumwalt’s Myrtlewood Factory
- Woods of the West
At Vines, you’ll find the work of resident glassblower Bryce Dimitruk, known for his elegant cherry blossom designs that grace blown glass ornaments, vase forms and vessels, tumblers and lamps.
Bandon itself is home to a unique combination of arts and environment at the Washed Ashore Project and art exhibit. Several of the project’s monumental-sized sculptures, made completely from marine debris collected from beaches, are on display at the Washed Ashore Exhibit and Workshop space. The project’s public art sculptures, whose creation is lead by artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, have engaged the coastal community on the issues of marine debris and plastic pollution. They’ve also spread awareness of these issues across the country where Washed Ashore works have been exhibited at about a dozen zoos and aquariums including the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC and SeaWorld Parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio. One of the project’s fish sculptures is also located outside, around the corner from the exhibit next to the Bandon Coffee Café, a good place to start your morning’s art explorations.
There’s more art to be discovered strolling Bandon’s Old Town and the Port of Bandon Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is a veritable sculpture garden with several large-scale wooden sculptures of marine life, along with artisan benches and chairs. The Boardwalk is also home to the Port of Bandon’s annual Boardwalk Art Show opening Memorial Day weekend and running through September. In Old Town Bandon, Second Street Gallery features the work of more than 100 artisans, mostly from the Pacific Northwest; and Art By the Sea is an artists’ cooperative showcasing the work of about 20 members, all of who reside within 50 miles of Bandon.
You won’t want to end your Bandon art tour until you try some of the local culinary works of art. Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant and The Loft Restaurant and Bar are can’t-miss choices for fine dining. Artisan chocolates can be found at Coastal Mist in Old Town Bandon and local artisan cheeses can be found at Face Rock Creamery on Highway 101.
For making Bandon your base for the art trail, lodging choices range from Bandon Inn, overlooking the Old Town area, Coquille River and ocean in the distance; or oceanfront properties such as Windermere on the Beach that offers easy access to one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the Oregon Coast.