The summer could see some new art-related projects in and around Molalla, as well as old favorites

Art is something people see every day and then often disregard unless it is at an art show or a museum. Public art beautifies streets and cities and often changes moods. Even if people don't like it, it can bring up ideas and encourage heated discussions about each public piece.

This fall will bring new art to Molalla and an event that the city council and arts members will hope will grow over the years. Scheduled for the same time as the Apple Festival, the Heritage Art Walk will feature at least one art/interpretive installation approved by an artist and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for the Sept. 22 event.

So far the art selection committee has completed an interview with the four artists and artist teams that applied for the commission. The committee selected Ben Dye, an Oregon City public artist for the project. Dye and the art committee will work with the Grand Ronde tribes to develop the art/interpretive installation concepts.

It's hoped that tribe members along with Dye and the committee present the work on Sept. 22. The number of artworks will be determined by the artist during concept development.

The art walk's purpose is to honor Molalla's Native American Heritage and invite the areas original inhabitants back to their original home and hopefully produce further healing, said Dan Huff, Molalla's city manager. The Molalla River School District has done exemplary work with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to incorporate Native American curriculum, develop a new high school logo among others, he said.

The Ford Family Foundation Leadership cohort worked with the Tribe on the banners currently hanging downtown, Huff added.

"We want to further that relationship with the Tribe and the Art Walk will again focus on Molalla Native Americans," he said.

Dye is a sculptor who believes that "public art is a way for the community to express the feelings "[of art to enhance the living experience] on a greater level," he says on his web page. He hopes to inspire others to explore the arts on a personal level as well as "…I believe I can compete with design and quality with the added benefit of a built-in story that follows all repurposed items."

He works in recycled metals and mechanical design for his multi-layered projects. He offers crane operation and repair, technical welding on both dry land and underwater as well as installation abilities, core drilling, epoxies and diamond wire sawing among others "…and a refusal to accept the statement 'it can't be done.'"

Besides beautifying the city, the work done by Dye, the art committee and several council members will have an impact on Molalla.

Meanwhile, the Visioning Process, which Council members Elizabeth Klein and Leota Childress, have been working on is in a holding pattern while they complete a grant application for additional funding to hire a facilitator.

But they still have almost four months to finish the process. The two expect to have more information on the next steps they need to take when they hear from the foundation. They are hoping to have the celebration to end the process in conjunction with the Apple Fest.

Connecting the Apple Festival with the Heritage Art Walk will show two phases of Molalla History.

While the Art Walk deals with the original peoples from the area, the Apple Fest deals more with the time of settlement.

Many of the settlers coming from the Oregon Trail, didn't settle at its end in Oregon City, but moved on into the Willamette Valley. Some of these settled in what is now Molalla.

That's what the Dibble Family did. They began building their home here in 1853 and finished it in 1859, planted near its apple orchards.

Some of these trees continue to provide Heritage apples, hence the festival, which celebrated 100 years in 2013.

It takes place this year on Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free, but welcomes donations.

Sponsored by the Historical Society since 1975, the free festival features costumed people providing living history demonstrations including weaving, cider pressing, tatting, quilts, handcrafted items and food. There will be apples, pies of all kinds, nuts, honey and breads that all are prepared in a commercial kitchen. There will also be fiddlers playing both old and new music and tours of the historical home that's getting up there in years.

The historical society places its emphasis on Native Americans, early pioneers, agriculture, the timber industry, Molalla Buckeroo archives and schools.

The museum's library provides family and genealogy research resources for the area.

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