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Medford officials are considering whether to allow a mural to be painted on a large downtown building

— A highly visible downtown wall might get more than a new coat of paint. It could get a mural.

The second-story wall of a brick building near the corner of East Main Street and Central Avenue, across the street from Vogel Plaza, is under consideration by the Medford Arts Commission for some creative enhancement.

The wall under discussion is above Tuxedo Junction and has had a package-tossing elf light display during the winter holidays.

Mike Miles owns the building, which has All Wedding Wishes Bridal Boutique in the first floor space.

— Lesley Klecan of the Medford Arts Commission said Miles approached the arts commission and said he would be interested in offering that visual space for the city.

Under discussion for several months, the issue will come again before the commission when local artist John Couch presents a proposal at their meeting late Monday afternoon.

He estimates a project like this could cost around &

36;10,000.

It'll take a few thousand for the prep work, he said.

Couch, who builds and delivers furniture, said he envisions a fruit orchard scene or a scene of Table Rocks or Roxy Ann Peak. He said he's been trying to come up with something that will appeal to a lot of people.

He said he's painted murals on everything from walls to race cars, said he usually does commissioned work.

I like to work with people's ideas, he said. If it's more personable, it's more fun for them.

Built in the late 1880s, the building has had advertisements for Coca-Cola, Mackey Photo Co. and Youngs Drug Co. painted on it over the years, according to photo archives at the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

Bill Miller, SOHS historian, said the building has even been a post office.

City rules permit purely decorative murals, according to planning officials, but because the building is in the city's historic district it would be subject to review by the historic commission.

The arts commission approached the Medford Urban Renewal Agency about sharing costs in the project.

I think the idea for putting a mural on that wall has great potential, said George Kramer, historic preservation consultant who works with MURA on their fa?ade improvement program.

Artwork murals in historic downtowns, I don't think they work very well, said Kramer, who said he wrote his thesis on commercial signs in historic downtowns.

I would be much more interested in a sign that had historic precedence in Medford, he said.

From cigar and whiskey ads to dairy farms and Levi's, Medford walls have seen a lot of advertising murals through history.

Klecan said her concern with historic ads is that they were almost entirely text, which isn't her idea of enhancement.

What we may do is send it out for an RFP (request for proposal), said Klecan. John Couch is certainly welcome to submit a proposal.

Kramer said it's important to be careful about art that's visible even from the interstate.

The problem with big wall graphics is that they're really big, and whether they're good or they're bad, it's really noticeable, he said.

The Medford Arts Commission meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Mondayat the Council Chambers, City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St. and is open to the public.

An historic ad replica, similar to this original fading relic of a Coca-Cola mural on Grape Street between Main and Eighth streets, is being considered for a second-story wall across from Vogel Plaza in downtown Medford. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell