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Eugene: A City For the Arts

Published: December 15, 2022

 

Creative expression is the heartbeat of Eugene. Art pulses through the city's neighborhoods and streets. It might be a formal affair like an opera or symphony or it could be the elaborately painted bus heading to the Oregon Country Fair. Sometimes it blossoms in an artist's home studio and sometimes it explodes as a flash mob in Kesey Square — however art and culture manifests, small or large, quiet or loud — in Eugene there is a lot of it!

Visually, you can see that this town is far from ordinary. From large, whimsically painted ducks to classic bronze sculptures commemorating Rosa Parks, Eugene Skinner (the town's founder) and author Ken Kesey, a diversity of media gives expression to Eugene.

Public art pops up on traffic boxes, sidewalks or the sides of buildings. The 20x21 Mural Project commissioned 20 world-class murals celebrating the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (hosted by Eugene). Every year, Eugene packs the summer with free public events showcasing the community's diverse arts from dance troupes to musicians to film screenings. The city has also been known to display pianos in public spaces, inspiring impromptu concerts by passersby. Why all this love for public art? In 1981, the City of Eugene made a commitment to the arts through the Percent for Art Ordinance which charges local government with the support and development of artists.

Rosa Parks statue

Photo: Colin Morton

Art Hubs

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts houses numerous resident companies including opera, symphony, ballet and concert choir. This performing arts powerhouse also hosts touring headliners, Broadway musicals, radio redux, concerts and comedy. The University of Oregon has strong performing and visual arts programs, as well as being home to the esteemed Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and The Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Fresh ideas flow forth from the colleges and community theaters.

DanceAbility by the City of Eugene

DanceAbility by the City of Eugene LRCS Department

Photo: City of Eugene LRCS Department

Art Happenings

Eugene attracts a lot of international attention for its many arts and cultural events. The Oregon Bach Festival dives deep into Bach. The Eugene International Film Festival explores independent films and the region's outstanding Oregon Asian Celebration is a vibrant cultural experience that you'll never forget. Year-round the Saturday Market showcases hand crafted artistry and the Lane Arts Council sponsors monthly art walks in downtown. Rub shoulders with plein air artists and buskers at markets, craft fairs and celebrations.

Eugene Fiesta Cultural by Ben Schorzman, City of Eugene

Eugene Fiesta Cultural

Photo: Ben Schorzman, City of Eugene
Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.