By Tyler Leeds • The Bulletin

A section of sidewalk along NW Harmon Boulevard in Bend will soon resemble a fish-filled stretch of the Deschutes River.

You won’t have to watch where you step — it will just be paint, part of a city project to remind those tempted to drop a candy wrapper or spill some motor oil that what ends up in storm drains finds its way to the river.

This isn’t true everywhere in the city, but near Drake Park, where Bend’s infrastructure is somewhat elderly, whatever is washed into the drains joins the water that carries floaters and stand-up paddleboarders.

The city selected three artists to cover four drains with paintings created using environmentally sensitive materials.

While the artists won’t be paid for the work, the city will reimburse them up to $300 to cover expenses.

David Kinker, who will complete two paintings along Harmon, said his family has worked on rivers for three generations and helping to protect the Deschutes seemed like the right thing to do.

“I make a living off it; it’s a beautiful place; I’ve always had a love for it,” said Kinker, 52, who’s a rafting guide. “These rivers are the lifeblood of the continents. My father and grandfather were both fishing guides, and I’ve just always felt this way.”

One of Kinker’s paintings will turn the sidewalk surrounding a drain into a cross section of the river.

From the top, you’ll see water rippling and the shadows of fish. From the street, the curb will be painted as if you’re looking into the water from the side, as if contained within an aquarium.

Lisa Marie Sipe, 40, who will paint at the intersection of NW Columbia Street and Galveston Avenue, said she plans to depict local fauna, such as the spotted frog, Foskett speckled dace (a small, narrow fish found in Eastern Oregon) and bull trout grouped within a water droplet.

“I wanted to find a way to tie in the local wildlife,” Sipe said. “I started with that idea and, playing around with it, thought that putting them in a drop of water would tie it all together, making it visually easy to get the idea.”

Nick Maithonis, 20, is taking a similar approach for a drain on NW Tumalo Avenue, where he’s planning to paint a procession of local creatures moving through a waterway.

“This was a little difficult for me,” Maithonis said. “My style of art is typically a bit more abstract and edgy, so I had to think about creating something that would be friendly to the general population. But this is a good chance for me to leave a positive mark with my art on the city, some way to interact with the community and something people will see on a daily basis.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. An earlier version of the story misidentified Lisa Marie Sipe’s age.

The Bulletin regrets the error.