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The second in a mural project series will be one people will look at 'for hours at a time'

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - A mural constructed on the side of the Steve's Auto building at the corner of Hancock and Sheridan streets was the first of many creators hope to erect in Newberg.

The giant pair of hands adorning Steve's Auto service in Newberg is hard to miss, brightly colored and stretching out toward the downtown.

And before too long, a second mural will bring color to the downtown, with the public library annex set for the location of the next piece of public art.

Leah Griffith, chairwoman of the board for the Newberg Cultural District and library director, said the annex was chosen to be the second recipient through the Yamhill County Mural Project, a creation of George Fox University art professor Luke Zimmerman. It is also sponsored by the Newberg Noon Rotary. Although Newberg has received the first two murals, the hope is to eventually expand into other communities in the county.

"I'm really interested in the social engagement of the arts and the role it can play in community development," Zimmerman said last year just before the first mural was finished. "Murals have a very strong tradition of playing that role."

"What we're doing now is working out the details of how that fits in the city development codes," Griffith said.

As with last year's project, the library's mural is being designed and created by four GFU students.

"The students are starting the planning process of what the design will be," Griffith said, adding that part of the process is educating them on rules and regulations of where a mural can be placed. "They figure out how to work through all those things."

The library was chosen, in part, for its location. The annex faces the Chehalem Cultural Center and is center stage for events like the Tunes on Tuesday concert series. What also sets it apart is that it won't be a mural that people just pass by. Because of its location for neighboring events, people will be staring at the mural for hours at a time.

"Unlike a lot of murals where you go by quick, this one people will be sitting down and staring at for hours," Griffith said. "It's a little different in that it's not a passing by mural. That was something that was a little different concept for them."

The mural on Steve's Auto was completed in September 2018. Griffith said this mural will likely be completed in two separate stages. First they will have to address the development code and could begin work in the spring. But they will have to hold off work while the concert series finishes and then pick up again in the fall.

The project's first attempt was a mural on campus during the 2015-2016 school year, but that eventually fell through. Zimmerman then connected with Geoff Gilmore of Newberg Noon Rotary, who not only came through with funding but secured a location for the first mural.

Griffith said the students have to address the concepts of the cultural district and consider what it means when creating the mural. They also must address the basic concepts of the Rotary, such as doing good things in the world. The concept for the mural at Steve's Auto is "a giving concept."

"As much as it is to bring art and such to our community, which is a big deal, it's also a learning opportunity for the students," she said. "For them to do something as large as a mural, but also there are processes to go through to make things happen."

There's also the challenge of four different students coming together to create one unified mural. Griffith said it can't "look like the work of four different people."

She added that they expect another mural for next year as well. Part of the funding comes at an annual auction, where a "Patron of the Arts" item is sold. That helps pay for the stipends for the students, and the person who purchases it can also help decide the location of the next mural.


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