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Process begins for Woodburn's second mural proposal

by: DAVE HUDDLESTON - This drawing by muralist Dave Huddleston could be the design on the wall of First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn.by: DAVID MORELLI - This rendering of the First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn shows what it will look like with the mural on its south side, facing Highway 214.The corner of Highway 214 and North Boones Ferry Road could become much more colorful if an application for a mural from the First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn is approved.

The mural, which would be on the south face of the church, would become the second such public art project to decorate the city since the city council passed an ordinance in 2012 allowing murals on nonresidential buildings.

First Presbyterian Pastor David Morelli submitted the application Thursday along with a rendering of the proposed mural. The design features an agricultural landscape of vineyards and wheat fields on a clear day with Mount Hood rising in the background.

The foreground of the mural presents a round table covered by a beige tablecloth set with several loaves of bread and a chalice of wine.

“The combination of the vineyards and the wheat fields with the cup and the loaves of bread brings together what is unique about the Willamette Valley and what is unique about the Christian faith,” said Morelli in a written statement to Woodburn’s Public Art Mural Committee.

“Our hope is that we have created a mural that is an asset to the community of Woodburn, as well as faithful to the Christian community.”

The mural’s artist, Dave Huddleston, is a Silverton native whose sister is the organist at First Presbyterian. Huddleston, who lives in the Napa Valley region of California, has more than 25 years of experience as an artist working with mural, commercial art, wine labels, theater sets and children’s books. Examples of Huddleston’s work can be viewed at www.davehuddleston.com.

Morelli would like to include a sign board adjacent to the mural with an explanation of the art, details about Huddleston and a memorial message to Lois Wengenroth, a Woodburn native who was a member of First Presbyterian before passing away last month at age 97.

The mural application sets in motion a process of approval that must allow for a public hearing in front of the art mural committee. The city must allow a 30-day period to notify the public before the committee can meet, listen to public testimony and determine if the mural design fits within the parameters of the city’s mural ordinance, said Jim Hendryx, Woodburn’s economic development director.

“It (is) our job to go through the ordinance and compare it to their (submitted) plan,” said Colleen Vancil, committee vice-chair. “It’s very expensive by the time you get all the stuff together, so it requires some thought and fundraising. It’s a bit of a process, and you have to have knowledge of how murals work.

“We really want community involvement,” said Vancil. “This is a town of many individuals, many cultures. We’d like to see a taste of everything in the murals of our town.”

The mural committee considers 10 points of criteria when deciding on whether to accept the mural, which must be gifted to the city as part of the ordinance. Murals must be appropriately relevant to the geography, culture and history of the region, and the artist must have prior experience in the medium. Originality, concept, scale and appropriateness of the art with the surrounding neighborhood are also considered at the public meeting.

Morelli solicited Huddleston with the mural idea before consulting the city’s criteria. When Huddleston responded with the concept artwork, Morelli was surprised to note they had met pretty much every point.

“When we got the application and looked at those 10 criteria, we went through them and I go, ‘Wow, we don’t have to change anything,’” said Morelli. “We met them all.”

If the mural gets approved, First Presbyterian would be the second organization to erect a mural after CAPACES Leadership Institute. The CAPACES mural, a colorful depiction of the migrant farm community in the Willamette Valley, was completed last summer and is painted directly on the walls of the building.

In contrast, the proposed mural at First Presbyterian would be seven panels mounted on the side of the church facing Highway 214. The mural would be 8 feet tall by 28 feet long, and the panels would be removable to allow for maintenance.

“It ties with Oregon and it ties with Woodburn,” said Morelli. “It just works.”

***

First Presbyterian Church to host mural fundraiser

Who: First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn

What: A cabaret, featuring music by the church choir, the Silvertones and surprise guests

When: Sunday, March 23 — lunch at noon followed by entertainment at 12:30 p.m.

Where: At the church, 1050 N. Boones Ferry Road

Why: To raise money for the mural project — and to meet the artist, who will be in town.


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