Cultivating Cultural Connections


(Working on mural project | Photo by Miguel Edwards)

The Story of Scalehouse Collaborative for the Arts

Scalehouse Collaborative for the Arts is emerging as a beacon of creativity and community in Bend, with a mission to harness the transformative power of art, creativity and design to address the pressing issues of our times. This multidisciplinary contemporary arts center is a cultural hub, crafting a legacy extending beyond traditional art spaces to foster dialogue, inclusion and social engagement through innovative programs and initiatives.

A guiding philosophy at Scalehouse is to inspire and unite the community by offering a platform for artists to explore and express important diverse issues ranging from mental health and LGBTQIA+ rights to racial diversity and homelessness. René Mitchell, a founder of Scalehouse, emphasizes the center’s commitment to diversity, stating, “All programming aims to have diverse representation. We curate a diverse range of artworks and artists that reflect different perspectives, cultures and experiences. This inclusivity not only makes the programming accessible to a wider audience but also enriches the conversation by offering diverse viewpoints.”

Exhibitions such as Jon Gann’s exploration of trauma and identity through mixed media open conversations and partner with local organizations to offer mental health resources, promoting healing through creative expression. Similarly, Be Nice White… You’re In Bend, produced by local BIPOC artists, challenged perceptions of diversity in Central Oregon, inviting interaction and reflection through a unique installation where visitors contribute to a collective artwork symbolizing BIPOC experiences. The Native Arts + Culture Project features Native Artists from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, which provided a platform to share their historical and contemporary experiences through art and culture, inviting the Bend community to engage with and deepen their understanding of local Native culture.

The origins of Scalehouse date back to 2011 when a group of visionaries, including Patricia Clark, Sandy Anderson, Alex Anderson and René Mitchell, conceived the idea of a contemporary arts center that would engage and inspire the local community. Over the years, the vision has grown and adapted, culminating in the opening of a gallery space in 2020 and the launch of community initiatives and artist residencies, ensuring that the legacy of co-founder Patricia Clark continues to influence the center’s direction.

Today, Scalehouse thrives under the guidance of founder René Mitchell, bolstered by the dedication of volunteers, staff and board members alike. Marley Weedman, operations and programming manager, and Lauren Sieffert, exhibition manager, are central to the collaborative’s development and growth. The significant efforts of former employee Lana Bannow in marketing, operations and securing sponsorships have been crucial to its advancement. Together with a committed group of founding and current board members, these individuals propel Scalehouse’s mission, leveraging their collective expertise in arts, marketing and education to maintain its vibrant role in Central Oregon’s cultural scene.

Looking to the future, Scalehouse is committed to enhancing the accessibility of its programming to foster a culture of creativity and collaboration. They are actively seeking to improve accessibility by introducing various methods for engagement, including better signage, audio guides and options for language access. With educational programs and workshops in the works, Scalehouse is cultivating an environment where art can thrive and inspire new generations of thinkers and problem solvers.

The excitement for what lies ahead is evident, with plans for the Scalehouse Lab programs, including professional development workshops for local artists and innovative education initiatives in partnership with Caldera High School. Community conversations through the Artful Discourse Chamber Series are set to bring together disparate groups around relevant topics, reflecting the center’s commitment to fostering a creative, connected community.

Scalehouse, a visionary arts center, shapes an inclusive future through creativity, collaboration and dialogue, uniting diverse thinkers with its free, diverse programs in art, design, film and more. Its commitment to inclusivity and thought-provoking offerings makes art a vital community fabric component, fostering connections, challenging norms and nurturing a space for every voice and creative impulse, building a legacy of cultural richness and unity in Central Oregon.


About Author

Leave A Reply