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The city of Hillsboro has selected twelve finalists from over 60 submissions for the annual award.

COURTESY PHOTO - Mary Lehnerm's art piece titled 'Afternoon Shadows in Hillsboro.' Her piece is one the finalists for the Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award.

The 9th annual Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award finalists have been announced.

The competition started out as a way to offer unique gifts that represent Hillsboro during economic development trips abroad — something created by a member of the community that could be shared with foreign dignitaries, according to city officials.

Now, the city purchases the original artwork from the winner and it is added to the city's public art collection — although the artwork is still reproduced and presented as a gift when city officials travel throughout the world.

"That has really become a visual chronicle of Hillsboro that represents the things that we love the most about the local community — the parks and the wineries and beloved public artwork and farmers market, all of those kinds of things," said Hillsboro's community arts program supervisor, Melissa Moore.

COURTESY PHOTO - Yong Hong Zhong's piece titled 'Under the Golden Light at Dawson's Creek.' The piece is a two-dimensional work that represents the city of Hillsboro.

This year, 12 finalists have been selected from over 60 submissions. The city requested for the artists to create an original two-dimensional work of art that would represent the city of Hillsboro.

"Each one had elements that were either unique that had been represented before among the past Picture Hillsboro winners or were just really beautiful pieces that were highlighting something we thought was valuable in the city," Moore said.

This year's artwork includes painting and photographic styles, and the creators range from professional artists to relative newcomers.

For finalist Harley Talkington, he's split between identifying in either category based on his experience.

COURTESY PHOTO - Harley Talkington's oil pastel painting titled 'Vincent's Field.' Talkington is one of the finalists for the Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award.

Talkington won the Hillsboro Purchase Hillsboro Award last year. He started painting about three to five years ago after retiring from teaching, he said.

"I think you just have to go in and realize, what are you going to lose from this?" said Talkington. "You know, just try it. I see it as a growth experience and a new way to play and work at the same time."

Talkington tried to incorporate art into his teaching lessons, but it wasn't until he was inspired by different artists in Washington County that he took the full leap.

His work has been featured in about 10 shows in the area. As for Talkington's latest piece, "Vincent's Field," he was inspired by a field near Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro. He then submitted the piece for the award.

"There's something very calming and peaceful about the countryside, and stopping and seeing a plowed field out there," he said. "Having lived in Portland for a while, you just don't see that."

Talkington created a layer of watercolor underpainting in the piece to help bring out the colors and add depth, which can be difficult when producing am oil pastel painting.

When asked if he has celebration plans in the works for a back-to-back Hillsboro Purchase Award win, Talkington said with a laugh, "Ooh, boy ... that might take some planning."

COURTESY PHOTO - Aaron Andersen's piece titled 'Orenco Dreams.' The Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award finalists will be presented at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

He added, "I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Talkington credits the city for giving him the boost he needed in his work.

"Hillsboro is a really unique place in their efforts to try to promote art," he said. "They're really a part of what's propelled me and gotten me excited to do my own art because of their encouragement through this whole process."

The city plans to continue the award for years to come.

"The city of Hillsboro is growing," said Moore. "Maintaining this visual chronicle that is evolving along with the city is really valuable. It's saying who we are as a community and reflecting both our past and the future we're embracing."

The Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award finalists will be presented at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Their work will be on display at the Civic Center Auditorium in downtown Hillsboro through March 2.

The Purchase Award selection will be announced at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

COURTESY PHOTO - Sylvia Guevara's piece titled 'Dark' is one of twelve finalists for the Picture Hillsboro Purchase Award. The city received over 60 submissions for the award.

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