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Talent Art Foundation provides support for artists

With a little bit of seed money and a lot of enthusiasm, the Talent Public Art Foundation has raised more than $8,000, established a board of directors and undertaken strategic planning.

Its plans include support for public art and arts education and recognition for the city’s artists. City government has little money to support public art, although officials encourage it.

“The main thing is a foundation like this will just allow the arts to take off and not be limited by city funds,” said Kierstin Brown, foundation board president. “One of the main goals is to get in a position where we can do grants and provide support for artists to do what they are doing, and to encourage new artists.”

Mayor Darby Stricker provided $500 in seed money from the Mayor’s Discretionary Fund for the group to hold a fundraiser at Paschal Winery in Talent in June. Artists donated their works for sale and auction and donations were taken. Organizers hoped to raise $5,000. The evening netted $8,200.

“We have a great, extensive artists’ community that seems unappreciated,” said Stricker. “We aren’t leveraging that to their advantage and our advantage. We want to expose them locally. They are known nationally.”

Photographer David Winston and artist Cathy Dorris have national and regional followings.

Brown would like to create awareness of how artists can be involved in the community. That might include sculpture, ways to beautify the town, and showcases for the artists. She’d also like to support art classes for schoolchildren and anyone else who wants to get a feel for the arts.

Other board members are vice president Ben Bergreen, treasurer Donna Thomas, secretary Ron Hodgdon, Dorris and Stricker.

“We are in the strategic planning process, putting together the direction we want to move and the projects we want to get involved in,” said Brown. An accountant has been hired and is working to establish the group’s nonprofit status so that donations can be used as tax deductions.

A city Public Art Committee has a largely advisory role to the City Council on art that is appropriate for display. Brown is a member of the committee.

Talent mosaic artist Karen Rycheck in July unveiled the town’s third mural, a scene from Ashland’s Equamore horse rescue ranch, for which she raised all the funds.

“The fundraising took the majority of the time,” Rycheck said of the installation on the side of The Grotto pizzeria. “(The foundation) could mean I don’t have to fundraise my own projects. It would allow me to do more work in Talent, which I would love to do.”

Rycheck also hopes the foundation would be able to boost art education in the local schools and bring more community involvement to art projects.

“The intention of art is not just to beautify, it is also a form of expression,” said Brown. “Sometimes in this society your voice just doesn’t capture it, where art will.”

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.