Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s phased reopening means for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible. Here’s what to know about Oregon’s outdoors right now. Before you set out, check road and weather conditions and check travel alerts to make sure it’s safe to be outdoors amidst smoke and wildfire conditions.
Winnona Garrison knows just how beautiful the Warm Springs Indian Reservation is — deer and elk roaming the plains, cinnamon-hued canyons rising around rivers and creeks, and snowcapped Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson towering over it all. She understands the importance of those landscapes, and what they provide to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. (Several wildfires have been burning on and around the reservation, so please be respectful and avoid the area until it’s safe to visit.)
When the Warm Springs Community Action Team announced a mural-painting grant from Visit Central Oregon, she saw the chance to reflect the land and inspire a remembrance of all of the natural beauty around her. Garrison, who is a member of the Owens Valley Paiute Tribe of California, created a piece called, “Ta’Aminwa Nam Ap’xtat” (which translates to “Always remember” in the Ichishkíin language). Visitors can see it on the side of the Reuse It Secondhand store, just off Warm Springs Street in Warm Springs.
Completed in July, Garrison’s mural depicts elements that have long been important to members of her tribe — deer, horses, salmon swimming upstream — all surrounded by trees, mountains and the natural beauty of Central Oregon. “I wanted to do something that kind of represents the Warm Springs reservation, and that’s the mountain, the trees, the land and some of the animals that are important to the people,” Garrison says.
Her mural is one of several recent installations that invite viewers to connect with Central Oregon’s rich history, natural beauty and vibrant culture. Mural viewing is also ideal for social distancing outdoors. Here are a handful of inspired pieces to enrich your next trip.
Joyful Serendipity in Madras
Like many Oregonians, Bend artist Karen Eland remembers exactly where she was while watching the total solar eclipse pass over Oregon in August 2017: with her family on a farm while a few campers nearby played classical music on a portable stereo. “It was just dreamy,” she says. “It was way more affecting than I would have thought.”
Eland painted “Eclipse Over Lake Billy Chinook” this spring, and it can now be seen on a south-facing wall at the northeast corner of Highway 97 and Southeast C Street in Madras, which was one of several locations in Oregon that were in the “path of totality” for the eclipse. The colorful mural depicts the phases of that total solar eclipse over Lake Billy Chinook, with Cascade peaks rising in the distance. Eland hoped to draw from a well of joyful serendipity and impart that sense of wonder to whoever might see the mural.
“Everybody was kind of glazed over with joy at this amazing natural experience we all shared,” she says of the eclipse. “And I hope others feel refreshed by beauty that’s still all around us. It’s not an eclipse every day — but I hope people remember, even if they didn’t see the eclipse, another moment in their lives that was that moving.”
Eat nearby: Just a few blocks away, Great Earth Cafe & Market serves fresh, filling sandwiches and wraps, as well as soup and salad — order online to carry out. Also close by, Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine dishes a mix of modern and traditional Mexican cuisine, with standout guacamole, margaritas and enchiladas made with handmade tortillas for dine-in on the patio or takeout.
Drawing on Wisdom in Warm Springs
When you stand before Jefferson Greene’s mural “Shúkwat” in Warm Springs, Greene hopes you think about the best day of your life … and the worst day of your life, and that forgettable Wednesday three weeks back, a random March afternoon in third grade — all of it.
As Greene explains, “All of those experiences, those are your shúkwat: wisdom, presence, what you have to give to the next generation,” he says. “I wanted it to provoke thought. I wanted to make people think: We’ve all gone through whatever we have — good or bad — but we’re standing in front of this artwork, thinking about those experiences and how we move forward in a good way.”
Greene hopes to do that by drawing on the stories and wisdom of his tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. His mural includes a symbol that details various aspects of the Warm Springs creation story, honors the importance of the horse to the Warm Springs people, and includes words (written by Greene) meant to, as he puts it, “look at how to take negative experiences and turn them into positive experiences.” Find the mural on the garage wall of the Community Action Team.
Eat nearby: Tule Grille (inside the Indian Head Casino) greets hungry visitors with a menu of burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, and a variety of snacks, available for takeout and curbside pickup. The ever-popular Kalama’s Fry Bread dishes crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside fry bread and Indian tacos (topped with homemade chili, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and sour cream) from a roadside trailer at Wasco Street and Paiute Avenue.
If You Go:
Find even more of Central Oregon’s public art scene at these great spots.
- In Sisters, a new colorful mural graces the facade of a building of the town’s Hood Avenue Arts District, featuring an assortment of wildlife and wildflowers underneath the Three Sisters mountain peaks. It’s painted by Bend artists Kelly Rae Roberts and Katie Daisy. Roberts just opened Marigold & True, the boutique shop at the corner of West Hood Avenue and South Pine Street, which houses the mural. Daisy sells her nature-based illustrations through an online shop and also collaborated on a mural inside of Foxtail Bakeshop & Kitchen in Bend. Grab a bite in Sisters at Nourish, the food cart adjacent to Marigold & True, run by Roberts’ husband, John.
- Prineville, the oldest city in Central Oregon, hosts a mural inspired by the whimsical “Oregon, Only Slightly Exaggerated” animations that depicts the state’s dramatic skies. Find the colorful mural, part of the Oregon Mural Trail, at Crooked River Brewing. Order a pint with your scratch-made pizza at the pub, or head to nearby Dillon’s Grill, noted for its creative burgers and tender barbecue.
- In Bend you can find public art nearly everywhere, and much of it can be viewed from the comfort of your car. The city’s Roundabout Art tour route comprises more than 20 works of art at traffic circles throughout the city. Find colorful tunnels under the Columbia Street Bridge in Bend’s Old Mill District, as well as an iconic mural on the side of the Les Schwab Amphitheater and more Art in Public Places.