It’s a new year and I’m moving my studio. I was accepted into The Workhouse in the Old Ironworks Arts District in Bend, Oregon. The Workhouse is part of the historic brick and mortar buildings built in 1912 to service Bend’s Lumber Mills and Railroad. It has high ceilings and my studio is along the window-lined side of the space. When I work I’ll be able to watch people come and go from the bustling Sparrow Bakery. These same visitors might end up touring and shopping the studio. The Workhouse is set up so the community can shop from over 60 local artists while also seeing eight of them at work in their studio environment.  On any given day you might find Karen Eland working on a new painting with concentrated coffee or beer at the large wooden community table, or you’ll see Abey Dubief kneeling on the floor cutting out patterns from vintage fabric and rugs. I’m excited about connecting more with the local community while I’m busy dipping photographs in hot wax and creating new work.

lisa-marie-sipe-new-studio

The first thing to go up in the new space was my artwork.

But before I tell you much more I want to take you back to 2012. In March of that year I was trying to decide where I wanted to live. I lived in Arizona for 17 years and I was ready for something different. I visited Portland and Bend, Oregon that March to see if either city would be right for me. I spent less than 36 hours in Bend, Oregon on that trip; barely enough time to get a feel for the city. But as Bendites and visitors know, it is easy to fall in love with the high desert set beneath the Cascade Mountain range where outdoor adventures can be had year round. I really liked the small city but worried the art community wasn’t big enough for me. On my way out of town I stopped at The Sparrow Bakery to grab a sandwich before I hit the road. The woman behind the counter noticed my artsy necklace designed by Melle Finelli and told me I needed to visit jewelry designer Stuart Breidenstein’s shop behind the bakery. I stopped into Stuart’s of Bend and marveled at his modern, unique jewelry in various forms of copper, silver, plastic and formica. He told me about his work and studio but also told me about a new space for artists that was almost ready to open next door, The Workhouse. I got a tour of the empty Workhouse and briefly met the studio director Cari Dolyniuk. This encounter sealed the deal for me. I could see that Bend had an exciting, growing art community where I could find my place.

I did buy something from Stuart’s shop that day. He was selling ceramic cups branded for the burgeoning Old Ironworks Arts District, I bought two of them. When I was back in Arizona my husband and I named them our “magic cups.” We said if we drink our wine from them they will get us to Bend, Oregon. I can’t say I believe in magic but those cups worked. We put our house on the market and it sold in an awful housing economy in 1 freaking day! We were living in Bend four months after buying those magic cups.

Ending up with a studio at The Workhouse is exciting and brings me full circle. Who knows it could’ve been leftover magic from those hand-crafted mugs that led me back that workspace. Either way I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me!