Community art in Tualatin
Southwest Sagert Street in Tualatin may look a little different when taking a stroll near Atfalati Park.
In late September, the city of Tualatin permanently imprinted four different designs on the sidewalk past the park on Sagert Street west of Southwest Wampanoag Drive. The artwork includes mammoths, doves, a sugar skull and a sun and moon design.
"Essentially, (we) just started soliciting calls for art to try and see if we could get the community interested in participating," said Tualatin Public Works Director Jeff Fuchs. "Then (we) went through a selection process with the diversity task force and the parks committee, and the four pieces of art that we picked are the ones that everybody liked the most."
Once the art was selected, the Tualatin Public Library used the 3D carving machine from its its high-tech makerspace to create molds of the art. The molds were then used to set the artwork into the concrete.
Four artists were selected from over 50 submissions. The winners include students from Bridgeport Elementary School, Hazelbrook Middle School and Tualatin High School.
"Anytime we can get outside connections with different industry members, it's always incredibly beneficial for the students because it's that real world experience that they need," said Tualatin High School digital arts and graphics design teacher Brenna White.
White made the project submission and optional assignment for her students.
Junior Allison Craner took on the project as a challenge. She wanted to create a culturally accurate piece representing Latino culture for the city.
"I decided to do a piece on the sun and the moon together to demonstrate balance and equality within Tualatin," Craner said. "So, I went for it and just did a black-and-white vector image of that."
Once Craner realized she was selected for the project, she couldn't believe her design was chosen, due to her age and experience level.
"It really gives that connotation that the community cares about the voices of all of its citizens, including people like me who are just novice artists trying to explore their creative outlets," Craner said. "And so, by giving a voice to — I don't know — my age group, I think it definitely encourages high school students to feel like they can make a difference in their community."
But students in the area were not the only artists featured on the sidewalk.
Professional artist Arturo Villaseñor, who was also among the winners, had his piece named "Doves" selected by the city.
"This design is actually apart of another painting that I did years ago while I was in Mexico," said Villaseñor. "The original design had three doves and one was inside of another. I separated them and did it that way (instead)."
Unlike the student artists, who agreed to donate their designs to the city, Villaseñor was compensated $2,500 for his design because of his professional status.
But economic motive isn't everything, said Villaseñor.
"I don't paint to sell, because I'm not Picasso," he added. "But if you sell something you happen to paint, it gives you a lot of joy that someone was willing to reach in their pocket to pay you for something you did."
Villaseñor doesn't live in Tualatin, but he has lived in the area for about 20 years. He appreciates the city taking the time to feature diverse voices throughout Washington County.
"They're getting closer to other parts of their community — that's also their community — including artists, children, everybody," Villaseñor said. "I feel like that's really important. That's something that should keep happening and cultivating throughout the community."
The sidewalk designs are also included in the city's traffic safety project, "Tualatin Moving Forward," which is the city's bond-funded program. It includes a new pedestrian-activated crossing near the park and new sidewalks on the south side of Sagert Street.
But Fuchs noticed there was one thing missing: community input.
"It's really important that we're always listening to the community," Fuchs said. "These are not our projects. They are their projects."
The city used a community development block grant to help pay for the new and improved sidewalk.
As for future plans to add more community art to the area, city officials say they hope to upgrade the rest of its sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and other improvements before moving forward with more designs.
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