By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Area residents interested in helping shape the artwork to be featured on two large trees outside the Keizer Civic Center should start planning now.

The Keizer Public Arts Commission recently approved a slate of meetings where individuals and groups will be able to pitch their ideas for the poles. The design process will follow a pattern similar to the development of the Big Toy in Keizer Rapids Parks. Interested citizens are invited to attend one of the upcoming meetings and then all ideas will be combined by a hired artist into an overall vision.

The Keizer Public Art Commission will be seeking public input on the design of two story poles in the coming months. A series of meetings is planned through January 2018. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Design meetings will be targeted to specific audience. An at-large meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3; elementary school students are invited to a meeting on Oct. 24; a Nov. 28 meeting will be directed at middle and high school students; and special interest groups like art associations and Native American tribal members will be invited to a Jan. 23 meeting. A final meeting on Feb. 27 will be a presentation of the final concept by the design artist.

Members of the committee were most concerned about attracting students to the meetings, which will happen after school hours from 6 to 8 p.m. During Big Toy planning, representatives of the design team visited schools and had students submit suggestions on the spot. While KPAC members are still hammering out the details for how the design meeting will work, there was concern about whether to simply combine all students into a single meeting.

Commissioner Lore Christopher said it should be separate meetings.

“The older ones who are going to be more sophisticated in an art sense, and then there’s the young ones who want to do fairies,” Christopher said.

The general theme of the project is telling the story of Keizer and and immediate area, but there are currently no parameters establishing when the story should begin or where it will end.

KPAC has applied for a grant to the Oregon Community Foundation to help cover the costs of the project, but will probably not hear back until the end of the year. Carving of the poles isn’t expected to begin until sometime in 2019.

The city was approached by a carver willing to take on the project for a fee, but he did not plan on being the conceptual artist, a matter that drew some surprise from members of the commission who though the same person would be handling both tasks.

“There’s two different artists, one who draws out the design and one who carves it,” said Commissioner Jesse Long. “The drawing artist should be involved in the design meetings.”

Commissioners mentioned two possibilities, a local graphic designer and the designer of the Salem Riverfront Carousel animals. If interested, the artists would have to submit proposals for evaluation.

While fundraising for the project is planned for January 2018 to January 2019, paying an additional artist to deliver a concept with an understandable storyline might mean shifting that fundraising schedule. The one thing the poles have is a lot of space to fill. One is 25 feet tall, the other is 20 feet tall.

Commissioners planned to do a dry run of the design meetings at their September meeting.