ASHLAND — Eight murals illegally installed under a Lithia Way overpass in 2007 are back, thanks to a lengthy, and sometimes controversial, process establishing criteria for public art in town.

ASHLAND — Eight murals illegally installed under a Lithia Way overpass in 2007 are back, thanks to a lengthy, and sometimes controversial, process establishing criteria for public art in town.

Businessman Lloyd Haines had the murals reinstalled with lighting on the underside of the bridge over the past few days.

"It seems like we've brokenthe logjam on public art," said Haines, who commissioned the murals from local artists. "We're actually getting to a place where we can be the art town that we've always claimed to be."

Haines, who is an owner in several buildings around the overpass, contributed to pathways, landscaping and picnic tables for the area, which is owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation and overseen by the city. He sidestepped city- and state-permit processes in hanging the art in 2007 and apologized.

After being ordered to remove the murals, Haines worked with former City Attorney Mike Franell to draft new rules that would allow public art. Some of their ideas have been incorporated in ordinances governing public art, including a selection and acquisition process, that were adopted by the City Council in January.

Public art projects now are springing up all over town.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved plans to paint utility boxes. A $1,500 grant from the Jackson County Cultural Coalition and a donation of paint and materials from Miller Paint Co. are making the project possible.

The city is seeking artists' proposals for sculptures that will grace two pedestals on a stairway near Calle Guanajuanto. Those proposals are due Friday. More information is available at the city's Web site, www.ashland.or.us.

On March 3, supporters of a public-art project in front of the Ashland Branch Library will go before the council for permission to install tiles on a library retaining wall that is near a bus shelter facing the street.

The tiles will be images of fabric panels that once graced a Peace Fence in the railroad district before the fence was vandalized in June and taken down.

The Public Art Commission has recommended the City Council approve the project, said City Management Analyst Ann Seltzer, staff liaison to the commission.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.