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Bend’s Roundabouts: More Than Just Moving Traffic, A Showcase of The City’s Stunning Art

Harcourts The Garner Group Real Estate
October 13, 2023

By Oleta Yancey, Principal Broker and Elizabeth Foster, Broker, Harcourts The Garner Group

Bend, Oregon, a small town nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, is known for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and vibrant arts scene. Part of Bend’s city planning includes roundabouts, which keep traffic flowing all across town. But one aspect that truly sets Bend apart from other cities is the unique artwork incorporated within the roundabouts, resulting in a fusion of functionality and aesthetics that creates a sense of wonder and delight for both visitors and residents. Made possible by the non-profit Art in Public Places, which started as “Art Now” in the 1960s.

One of the most renowned roundabout artworks in Bend is the "Sew Sisters" installation. Located at the intersection of Newport Avenue and College Way, this artwork features three towering sculptures of women, each holding a different object symbolizing the town's history. One figure holds a trout, representing the Deschutes River, a crucial natural resource that flows through Bend. Another figure holds a skier, paying homage to the town's world-class ski resorts. The third figure holds an artist's palette, representing the vibrant arts community that thrives in Bend.

The newest roundabout artwork is Golden Squirrel’s Wondrous World, located at Butler Market Road, Empire Avenue and 27th Street. This structure features a steel wheel symbolizing the timber mills from Bend’s past, wheels of cars, and a hamster wheel with a squirrel on top to humorously reflect the routine of daily life.

These art installations foster a sense of community pride and identity, serving as visual landmarks that create a memorable experience for all who drive through the city. The roundabouts, once generic and nondescript, now become points of interest and conversation starters. They reflect the values and interests of the people of Bend, ingrained in the very fabric of the town. These artistic installations not only beautify the traffic circles but also contribute to road safety and community identity. Bend's commitment to incorporating art into its urban infrastructure sets an example for other cities, showcasing how creativity and functionality can go hand in hand. The town's roundabouts have truly become a canvas for artistic expression, turning every drive into a visual journey through Bend's vibrant culture. Today’s count is 21 roundabouts with sculptures. 

Oleta Yancey
Principal Broker, Harcourts The Garner Group RE

Elizabeth Foster
Broker, Harcourts The Garner Group RE