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2,340 square feet in 20 days

Vogel Plaza is about to get a cannonball splash of color.

Colorado artist Yulia Avgustinovich will paint a 2,340-square-foot mural on the east wall highlighting Southern Oregon’s orchards, historic buildings and beauty. She’ll begin June 10 but has to finish by the end of the month, as the $15,000 cost is coming out of the city of Medford’s current fiscal year budget.

The Medford Arts Commission chose Avgustinovich over proposals from 28 others because of her detailed plan and because she has dozens of murals and public art projects under her belt, according to Simone Stewart, chairwoman of the commission and co-chair of the committee that picked the mural.

“She definitely has the chops,” Stewart says.

The mural’s wall was once was part of the three-story Fluhrer Building before it was ravaged by fire Feb. 10, 1969, according to Stewart and historic property records. Although the wall is city property — the former Fluhrer building has been part of the “pocket park” since the early 1970s — Stewart says she got buy-in from neighbors, too.

It’s the first project funded from the city’s Employee Innovation Competition, according to city spokeswoman Kristina Johnsen. The program, started by the city manager, encourages teams of city staff to make their best pitches for one-time projects to make the city better.

Winning team The PlaceMakers, consisting of parks and planning staff, was awarded $15,000 to fund the mural.

Stewart describes the cost as a relative bargain, saying the grant award was a fraction of the amount a pair of Eagle Point murals cost more than a decade ago.

“I didn’t know if an artist would be able to do it for $15,000,” Stewart says.

Avgustinovich’s proposal put the commission at ease, Stewart says. It included costs, colors and brand of paint she’ll use, and planning for contingencies such as tarps should she encounter rain during the painting.

“It was almost unanimous that she was the top choice,” Stewart says, recounting two April meetings that drew from committee and public input.

Stewart says Avgustinovich’s mural design, drawing from the Rogue Valley’s farming heritage and natural splendor, resonated with the committee as well.

The committee liked the way Avgustinovich drew from Medford’s historic buildings, Stewart says, and how she found a way to showcase three informational placards that will remain on the wall.

Avgustinovich, taking a short phone break from a mural she’s painting in Rockford, Illinois, says she usually does “extensive research” before submitting a mural proposal. During her research, the town’s historic buildings and natural sights piqued her interest.

“The biggest part is those blossoms,” Avgustinovich says. “It’s a very important part of the valley and Medford.”

Avgustinovich was born in Belarus and graduated from the St. Petersburg Arts Academy with a degree in Monumental Public Art before moving to the United States in 2012 — first to Oakland, California, then to Denver in 2015.

She says she started with studio and gallery art but found her calling with public art. She says she loves the compliments from the community as her pieces come together.

“I always wanted art to be more accessible to more people,” she says.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Submitted photo{ } The mural will be painted on the east wall of the "pocket park" at Central Avenue and Main Street.
Blossoms feature prominently in Colorado artist Yulia Avgustinovich's design for a mural in Vogel Plaza, Medford.