“The artwork is the result of a program called Visions of Hope, a Bend-based nonprofit that works with correctional institutions throughout Oregon.”
By Yoko Minoura
One point of pride at Tetherow Resort is the use of local products, from soap in the hotel rooms to food served in both restaurants. Even the artwork on display is the work of Oregon artists.
But the pieces currently showcased in The Row may end up having an impact on people living half a world away.
The artwork is the result of a program called Visions of Hope, a Bend-based nonprofit that works with correctional institutions throughout Oregon. The program helps provide art supplies and classes to inmates; when pieces are shown and sold, the proceeds go to Otina Waa Children’s Village, an orphanage and school in northern Uganda.
Mother and son team June and Scott Brown, of J.S. Brown Design, are responsible for both the interior design in The Row and the art on its walls. The Browns volunteer as board members for Visions of Hope.
Beyond the feedback – which has been largely positive – numerous pieces shown in The Row have sold, they said.
“It’s been one of our most successful venues,” Scott said, adding that St. Charles Medical Center, Century 21 Real Estate, Strictly Organic Coffee Company and other businesses have also displayed Visions of Hope artwork. “Whether (people) buy it or not, they appreciate the story.”
Scott said the program actually began as an inmate initiative at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon. The chaplain there asked Dale Russell, founder of Visions of Hope, to give a presentation about his work with the Otina Waa Children’s Village.
Inmates in Snake River’s art classes decided to donate their work to support the children, and the program evolved from there. Artwork is not the only way the inmates contribute; Scott said roughly 80 inmates from seven institutions around Oregon sponsor children at the orphanage.
June said the program seems to give many prisoners a sense of purpose. Their behavior improves; they become invested in the orphans, and many exchange letters.
“It’s really changed the prisoners,” she said. “I think they’re starting to see they lose that aggression.”
“(The art is) a good outlet for a lot of issues they’re going through,” Scott added.
He said artwork sales have raised roughly $60,000 for the orphanage over the past seven years.
“We don’t know of another program like this in the states,” he said. “Art, yes, but (not one) that benefits an orphanage.”
Scott said he has collected another 80 finished pieces. Once matted and framed, they should go on display and on sale at various venues – The Row included – around the end of the month.