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Walk the Walk

Two public art projects are coming to the Whiteaker

On a stretch of wall overlooking a gravel lot in the Whiteaker, grimy layers of graffiti and tags have built up, offering non-sequitors like “You glad football is almost over?” and “RIP Crisco.” 

By July, that wall will be a community mural. The Whit neighborhood, long known for its offbeat artistic chops, is about to get a whole lot artsier. Two projects are taking shape: The 2016 CarPark Mural Project and the Whiteaker Art Walk. 

The Whiteaker Community Art Team (WCAT) is working with the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC) to beautify the Whiteaker CarPark South at 5th Alley and Blair Boulevard with a mural and they are actively looking for artists.

The wall section of the carpark is wood-paneled and runs 43-feet-long by 10-feet-tall. Interested artists must apply by 7 pm Thursday, May 5, and a muralist will be announced May 13. With a grant from the city of Eugene, the artist will receive a budget of $3,000. 

“The mural is going up in the CarPark South, which is one of three new parking lots that the Whiteaker Community Council has been leasing in order to respond to resident complaints that the booming commercial area of Blair and Van Buren has been drawing a lot of car traffic,” says Emily West, a board member of WCC and liaison to WCAT.

“The carparks were initially meant to respond to that,” West continues. “People wanted more than just more parking for visitors. They really want the visitors to know something about our community when they visit us.”

Long term, West says, she hopes the carparks will become community green spaces and venues for pop-up art studios. 

“We would love for it to be community-oriented, capture the vibe, reflect on the spirit of the Whit,” adds Sarah Bush, a volunteer spearheading the mural project for WCAT and a jewelry designer for Jody Coyote. Bush says the chosen artist will begin working May 14 and complete the mural for a grand revealing and celebration June 24, 2016.

Bush and a handful of WCAT volunteers are also working to build up the Whiteaker Art Walk, as the Last Friday Art Walk has waned in its organization. WCAT held its first walk, also on the last Friday of each month, in March.

“I knew there was a lack with the art walk,” Bush says of Last Fridays, “and I want to see it move forward.” She has been going door-to-door to businesses and artist studios to spread the message and drum up interest for the new art walk. 

“We want to infuse it with Whiteaker-esque things,” Bush says. “We want it to be more colorful in essence.”

WCAT is looking to sign up local celebrities to lead the walk, and the volunteer organization is also looking for more manpower.

“It’s work,” Bush says with a laugh. “It takes effort to organize a volunteer group.” 

Artists looking to apply for the mural project can find an application packet at whiteakercommunitycouncil.org; applications are due by 7 pm Thursday, May 5, to whiteakermurals@gmail.com. For more info on the Whiteaker Community Art Team and the Whiteaker Art Walk, email whiteakermurals@gmail.com or find the Whiteaker Community Art Team group page on Facebook.