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Gateway to inspiration

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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Talent Middle School students work on painting copies of award-winning artwork onto large panels that will surround the perimeter of the Gateway site.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Talent Middle School students paint panels that will surround the of the Gateway site.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Talent Middle School students paint panels that will surround the Gateway site.
Students ready artwork for Talent transitional housing site

Students in Talent Maker City summer art classes are transferring artwork solicited in a contest onto panels that will decorate the perimeter of the Gateway transitional housing site in Talent

Talent Urban Renewal Agency is developing the site, at the corner of Highway 99 and West Valley View Road, to house 54 trailers that will provide homes for residents displaced by the Almeda fire. The agency’s theme for the contest was “Stronger Together.”

“The cool thing about it is that the students will see their art and names on a plaque. They can understand they are part of the (rebuilding) process,” said Cathy Dorris, lead instructor for Talent Maker City. Students doing the transfers will also be named on the plaque.

Wording on some of the 4-by-6-foot panels will include “We will rise again,’’ “We are in this together” and “Hope grows here.” Students were painting the art onto the panels at Talent Middle School this past week.

Housing site work began in June and should be finished in October. Infrastructure being installed will eventually serve permanent residential and commercial development at the site. TURA has partnered with the Phoenix-Talent School District to assist families displaced by the fire. The district will provide 54 trailers it received in a partnership with Rogue Retreat.

TURA received about 45 pieces of artwork. Talent’s Public Arts Committee selected 34 for display. Several adults submitted entries, but most came from students.

Talent Maker City classes — two each at Phoenix High School and Talent Middle School — have just started. Each class runs for two weeks from noon to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Classes have had about a dozen students each.

“Once we got the kids going there was lots of interest to do more,” said Dorris. “It’s amazing what they are accomplishing.”

Student excitement has produced another panel. As students painted, their hands got coated and some started doing hand prints. That’s led to a panel that will have prints from the students in all classes.

Dorris and four other instructors taught the students about scaling, figuring out how to increase the size of what was shown in the submissions so objects have the same proportion on the finished panels.

For more detailed aspects of some works, computer scans of the submissions were used to created projections that could be put onto the panels to provide guidelines. Mural-sized letters were cut out to assist with painting of words.

“What you see is going to dry one shade darker,” Dorris explained to students mixing paint and putting it on sample pieces

Students also had to do some calculating to figure out supply needs and timelines for the project. Estimates were made on the amount of paint required and how long it would take to finish the project.

“I wanted to show everyone holding hands. It symbolizes togetherness,” Lucia McQuire said of her detailed art, which shows a cityscape with people. McGuire is one of the instructors and also had her piece selected for display.

Talent Middle School eighth-grader Jessalynn Lumbreras took a break from working on McGuire’s mural because it was so detailed, although she returned to it later. During the break she worked with other drawing hands on a mural that shows them supporting a weight, with part of the sun, sky, hills and mountains in the background.

“It’s fun. I’m just going over stuff,” said Lexy Broussare, who will be a freshman at Phoenix High School this fall, as she touched up details on a panel. “I love painting and stuff like that.”

Laura Quintero, another instructor, also had a piece selected. It represents the Latino community, she said of the work, which includes corn, a man, a woman and a background of the Talent skyline.

“As a community we need to realize we are a team and to reach out beyond,” said Quintero.

A photograph submitted by Charley Pedersen that was taken shortly after the fire will be painted on one of the panels. It shows chalk writing on a sidewalk with the words, “We are love, We are hope, We are Talent.”

There’s no student fee for the classes, which are supported by the school district and urban renewal agency. TURA is supplying the panels and paint. Community sessions to paint the panels will be conducted at Talent Maker City’s work space after the classes conclude.

Installation of water and sewer lines at the Gateway site has been completed, said Jon Legarza, TURA executive director. Pilot Rock Excavation, which is preparing the site, will begin work on power, cable and telephone lines next. Completion is scheduled for Oct. 5.

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