Gresham's outdoor art group shares plans for 2018
During the holidays in downtown Gresham, a trend emerged. People would go to the bronze statues that now dot the corners of North Main Avenue and Northeast Third Street and hang wreaths around their necks or place a Santa hat on their heads.
For Judy Han, that kind of interaction is exactly what Gresham Outdoor Public Art (GOPA) was hoping to see when the organization worked to bring more installations throughout the city.
"It's amazing, the art has lifted the spirits of people in the community," said Han, chairwoman of the GOPA board. "They get off their cellphones and interact with it."
This past year was a busy one for GOPA, which works to bring pieces by local artists to Gresham while providing ongoing educational and cultural experiences. They celebrated unveiling "Blue," a statue by Heather Soderberg, "Berry Harvest," a mural by Don Gray, and "Slide the Otter" and "Seeker the Raven," statues in Nadaka Nature Park by Rip and Chad Caswell.
"In all of these cases, we are celebrating local artists," said Leslie Radke, the treasurer of GOPA. "What we want to be is a bridge in our community to different organizations and groups."
The art GOPA supports and brings to the community is geared toward those who donate in an effort to highlight the best parts of Gresham. One of the most recent pieces, a bronze teddy bear outside of Boccelli's Ristorante, commemorates the ever-popular Soroptimist International of Gresham's Teddy Bear Parade.
And while some would be content with the successes of yesterday, GOPA is already hard at work planning more pieces for this year.
"We can't do what we do alone, and the city has been unbelievably supportive," Radke said. "We want art to emanate all throughout the city."
More ornate bike racks will be coming to downtown Gresham. A large pod, called the bike farm, will be located outside of Jazzy Bagels, facing East Powell Boulevard. They are being made from recycled wagon wheels, matching the mural on the wall showcasing the community's agricultural history.
The bike racks being placed around the city are in response to cycling groups that often use Gresham as their end destination. As bike tourism has steadily increased in Gresham, GOPA decided it would be a nice way to bring functional art into the community.
Another planned installation is planned near the corner of Third Street and Hood Avenue. That sculpture was made by Mt. Hood Community College students in the sculpture and glass department, and will invoke images of leaves and nature. That piece should be installed around the end of the month.
At Tsuru Island, thanks to support from the employees of Stamp-Connection, there will soon be a statue of a crane taking flight in the Japanese gardens.
"We have a lot of things we are excited about that we are still working on putting together," Han said.
Some of those, for which details are still being ironed out, include an installation on Northwest Fifth Street near East Hill Church, a piece on Southeast 181st Avenue, and potentially a piece honoring Native Americans in a local park.
"We can always have art that fits with what local businesses do or need," Han said.
GOPA members say their goal is to bring more brightness and joy into the community they love.
"Gresham is becoming a walking community and is full of families," Han said. "Someday you will be able to walk through our community and touch and feel all of the art on every block."