Whimsical, educational and captivating, two new outdoor murals at the Santo Community Center already have caught the eyes of local children.

Whimsical, educational and captivating, two new outdoor murals at the Santo Community Center already have caught the eyes of local children.

"The kids really took to the murals," said Linda Hildebrand, a member of the Medford Arts Commission. "I think it is a great thing."

The Arts Commission, working with a local committee, chose Portland artist Jennifer Gillia Cutshall to produce two large murals, "Time Flies" and "Our View From Here."

The murals will be officially unveiled at 5:30 p.m. today at the Santo Center, 701 N. Columbus Ave. Refreshments will be served free of charge.

Cutshall also helped students produce a panel of their own to give them some hands-on experience, Hildebrand said.

"The kids did all the work," she said.

The Medford City Council approved a $27,330 contract with the Portland-based artist last May after a local committee selected her. Cutshall has worked on more than 300 murals.

"Time Flies" is 8 feet by 44 feet and has been placed on the exterior wall of the Youth Activity Center. Hildebrand said this mural is a whimsical look at how much things change. Cutshall showed children vinyl records and a Walkman, which once were as popular as iPods and iPhones.

Cutshall said she got the idea for the "Time Flies" mural by painting murals for 15 years and realized that so much has changed in that time.

"Some of these kids are so young they'd never see an LP," Hildebrand noted.

The mural shows flying computer monitors and a child riding a bike under a star-filled sky.

"Our View From Here" is 8 feet by 60 feet and displays recognizable landmarks in the Rogue Valley, including the Table Rocks, Mount McLoughlin, Bear Creek and City Hall.

The mural is mounted on the breezeway next to the main entrance facing Jackson Street.

The murals were so large that Cutshall had to rent a warehouse in Portland to work on them, then she transported them to Medford. She said she got the idea for the mural from looking at photos of the Medford area.

Instead of being painted on the center's walls, the murals were designed so they could be moved. They were painted on plywood using high-quality outdoor paint then covered with five coats of varnish to protect the artwork from graffiti and the elements.

The murals are the latest in a series of outdoor art displays erected since the program began in 2002. The last piece was the "Rogue Columns" in front of City Hall. Other art includes "The Chess Man" sculpture in Vogel Plaza and "Children Playing with Instruments" at Ninth Street and Central Avenue.

Ray Kelly, chairman of the Medford Arts Commission, said the entire process to pick an artist and get the artwork completed took about six months. He said the murals are a welcome addition to the Santo Center.

"I think they bring a lot of liveliness to the center," Kelly said. " 'Time Flies' is a very playful interpretation. 'Our View' captures just about anything you might think about in the valley."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.