Canvassing the town

Art in Bloom festival in downtown Medford continues today, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jaime Bryn uses chalk to create an art piece during Saturday’s Art in Bloom event in downtown Medford.Julia Moore

Rachel Miller is the definition of a working artist.

The self-described "graffiti surrealist" holds a day job at a video game and skateboard shop to help pay the bills, but her free time is spent cranking out commissioned paintings that adorn everything from vinyl albums to PlayStation 3s.

"Why spend time and money buying new canvases when I can just find stuff to paint on?" Miller said.

Miller was among hundreds of artists who sweated out a humid day in downtown Medford to celebrate creativity and expression as part of the yearly Art in Bloom festival.

The weekend gives working artists a chance to show off their creations, and hopefully sell a few pieces.

"It's great that the city acknowledges art like this," Miller said. "I would like to sell more art locally. Most of my stuff is commissioned by people from across the country."

One of the more noticeable booths belonged to Life Art, a program that allows teens a creative outlet away from drugs and gangs.

The attention-grabbing painting of the workers and civil rights advocate Cesar Chavez at the Life Art booth was the senior project of Southern Oregon University art student Jose Rivera.

Rivera brought in a group of teens from Life Art to help him finish the painting of the iconic Mexican-American leader.

Among them was 15-year-old Anthony Ortega, who jumped at the chance to honor Chavez.

"It was all about Cesar Chavez's legacy, standing for hope and equality, not only for Mexicans but for everyone," Ortega said. "I look up to him and try to walk in his shoes everyday."

Several vendors said this year's festival was considerably slower than last year. They speculated that the day's heat and humidity might have kept many people away.

It was a shame, too, because they missed out on some interesting work happening right on the streets of downtown Medford.

Williams-based artist Jaime Bryn spent the afternoon using chalk to replicate a painting by French realist William-Adolphe Bouguereau into the road.

Bryn, who also works as a tattooist, chose the image of a mother holding a baby to honor Mother's Day.

The work will take the better part of two days to complete and will then be left in the middle of Central Avenue. It doesn't bother Bryn that her sketch will meet hundreds of cars in the coming days.

"As the cars drive over it, the tires will lift it off layer by layer," Bryn said. "It will be kind of fun to come back here and look at it after a few days."

The festival will continue today, with downtown closing to traffic at around 11 a.m. The festival will run until 4 p.m.


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