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Roundabout Analysis: A Tale Of Two Roundabouts


What progress we are making

Time spent with cats is never wasted. However time spent driving around in a roundabout can be. Speaking of roundabouts, have you ever really thought about the art in them. I mean, REALLY thought about the art? Have you ever wondered about these masterpieces as you drive through them? Have you ever truly analyzed them? Nope, so it's about time we did so.


These days, roundabouts in Bend are about as common at intersections as someone saying they moved here from California. Do most of you even remember where the first Bend roundabout built even was? Yep, the one on Century Drive. No, not the one with the large letters that look like they spell S.E.X. when you drive around. Nope, not the one with the dear in it, that look like they are either caught in your headlights, or suffering from eating too many McDonalds hamburgers. Yep, it's the one with the trees in it, yes, just trees.

These days another thing that is taken for granted is art being in the center of the roundabout. Yes, the original Bend roundabout has no art in it (of course at one point it did have the best piece of roundabout art ever - do you remember?). So, another question that used to get asked quite often was 'where the hell is this art coming from?'. Yep, Art In Public Places are the folks that bring the art to the roundabouts. Of course from the website it's about as clear as mud as to who these actual people are. Sure a few names have been thrown around, but truly do we know?


Truly the first roundabout that got really much public commentary was the one located at 8th Street and Franklin. Why was this? One day it was a circle in the road and the next it featured a large squatting bear. Being someone who graduated from Mountain View High School, my first question was 'was it a Lava Bear?' (what the hell is a Lava Bear anyway?). I was not alone. Letters to the editor of The Bend Bulletin poured in. I think some involved children being scared and complaints about bullets bouncing off the bear into neighboring house’s windows from all the hunters driving through and taking a shot.

Truthfully the art itself wasn't bad, but it was fun to see what was written into the paper, and people were talking about it. Of course that was nothing until the roundabout at Galveston and 14th Street went up.


The Flaming Chicken (as it became known as) truly got some well deserved attention. With the bear, people were confused and curious. With the phoenix, people were angry and out for vengeance. It was bad enough that Dairy Queen was closing it's doors, and other businesses expressed their concerns about being financially impacted by the road closures. However, when the phoenix was placed high atop the pole, it was another matter.

Why do these pieces deserve some extra attention? Simply because if you lived in Bend during the roundabout art controversy days, you truly remember these pieces with either some form of affection or hatred. Many people have been emotionally scarred by roundabout art, and it's time to reflect on this. Did the people at Art In Public Places know what they were doing? Maybe the organization is run by a bunch of psychiatrists, trying to pad up their client base. Maybe it's a bunch of lawyers who knew that there would be lawsuits from emotional trauma cases and property damage cases from accidents with people taking their eyes off the road to look at the art. Will we ever know?

These days the bear is often decorated with Santa hats and the phoenix spins in the air. Nobody writes letters to The Bulletin anymore. When a piece of roundabout art goes up we smile and drive by. People still can't drive in them , but that's another matter.

Are the emotions still there when you drive through the roundabouts, or it is simply a distraction you rarely look at anymore? When's the last time you analyzed your roundabout art?

Posted by monkeyinabox ::: |


Keeneye said:

Monkey.... you're overlooking the true, first roundabout in Bend on Lafayette and NE 10th Street. I know, because I owned a home on its corner for over ten years.

I watched cars bounce over its small curbs and destroy the Aspen trees planted in its tiny circle of dirt -- and also watched holes blown into the ground of its circle during my annual 4th of July parties.

It was the teeeniest of all roundabouts; so small that even the drunkest of drivers had to barely twitch the wheel to get around it, yet, it had broken tree trunks on a monthly basis.

The roundabout Bear on Franklin and 9th mocked me. Why wasn't there art on Lafayette and 10th? Should I have mounted a statue in memorial of my dog that died on that corner? Would my neighbors complain? Would I have made the cover of The Source?

That first night that we put the Santa hat on the Bear... I "Bearly" remember our reasoning behind it. It's absolutely delicious that the tradition reigns on. However, how beautiful it would be to see this same Santa cap placed on the Flaming Chicken this year....

just planting a plan.

monkeyinabox said:

Well, I hardly see the intersection at Lafayette and 10th as a true roundabout. Seriously if you want to go around in circles it is too much work.

I think you know the rule about art in roundabouts. If you don't like it, complain or make your own. ;)

I like the Santa cap on the Flaming Chicken idea. Maybe those west-siders are too chicken to try it.

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