By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Think that it might be a risk to put up a city-approved mural on the wall of a business that recently stirred up nationwide controversy with an anti-gay marriage message on its readerboard?
Former Keizer mayor Lore Christopher, chair of the Keizer Public Arts Commission which met July 28, has some words she would like to share on the issue.
“That’s a business that’s been in business for 47 years, it’s an iconic Keizer business regardless of what was recently put up on that sign. The decision to put that mural on that location on that wall was made six months ago. It had nothing to do with talking about Don Lebold’s (owner of Town & Country Lanes, the bowling alley picked as site for Keizer’s next mural) political views. Before we selected that wall, we certainly did not say we would like to know your political views and how they might reflect on the city. I think it is an absolute moot point. It had a long wall with great visibility that lent itself to a public mural. I have no reservations moving forward and I can’t imagine that anyone … I, mean, that is so wildly remote that somebody would put together that seven individuals sitting together on a volunteer advisory board and the city of Keizer and any of their affiliates would be a show of support for anyone’s personal political beliefs. That is a stretch that in the 20 years of being with the city, I’ve never seen a farther stretch than that,” said Christopher.
Nevertheless, it was an issue on the mind of at least one Keizer resident who asked the question of City Councilor Amy Ripp, liaison to KPAC, who brought up the possibility of perceptions regarding a proposed mural and recent controversy.
“It was the site and the city looking like it supports Don’s opinions,” Ripp said before invoking the moral outrage of Christopher.
The question was prompted by the appearance of a reader board message at Town & Country Lanes stating, “Judges making decisions contrary to the word of God will they themselves be judged.” The message was posted shortly after a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage throughout the United States.
By the time Christopher was finished, the only other person willing to speak was Commissioner Beth Melendy, who said, “I think moving the mural would send a bad message that it’s become a political decision.”
Ripp submitted to letting the issue go saying, “I have verbage now.”
Later in the meeting, commissioners settled on the specific images to be part of the long Keizer Iris Festival parade-themed mural. The mural will face north with the parade running toward River Road North and include images in the following order: pet parade, McNary High School’s JROTC color guard, Keizer Fire District’s antique fire truck, the McNary band members, a rodeo court, classic cars, an Aztec heritage group, a smoking Volcano, Mexican horse riders, and a Town & Country Lanes float. Clowns will be featured throughout the parade line-up.
Local residents may also have the opportunity to have their face featured on the mural … for the right price.
Commissioners briefly discussed the possibility of individuals having their face placed in the mural as part of the crowd in exchange for a donation to KPAC that helps fund the project completion.
No firm price on the feature was discussed, but a $500 amount was bandied about. There would be a limited number of slots available on a first-come, first-served basis if the idea is carried forward.
In other business, commissioners:
• Tabled passage of KPAC policies and criteria for public art moving forward.
• Opted to forego participation in the Cherriots bus shelter paint-in project this year.
• Will no longer pursue painting of utility boxes owned by PGE along River Road North, but might be able to organize a project to paint signal boxes owned by the city.
• Discussed possible placement of a diamond ring sculpture commissioned by Boucher’s Jewelers in front of Sonic. Commissioners have yet to vote on whether the piece will be accepted as public art.