C.S. Poppenga
Artist in Residence
Redmond Proficiency Academy, Redmond, Oregon
In February 2010, I was an Artist-in-Residence for one week at Redmond Proficiency Academy in Redmond, Oregon (USA.)
I returned to the school for a second week in April.  This residency was a co-operative between the school, the City of Redmond, the Redmond Kiwanis, and the Arts Central Commission of Bend, OR.

During the first week I introduced a core group of nine students to the process of researching, writing and presenting a public art proposal. The art project was pre-determined to be an outdoor mural that highlighted aspects of Redmond's history, with an emphasis on those items that , from the students' viewpoint,  were significant to the image of Redmond today. Students visited the mural site in the City's new Centennial Park, met with the commisioning committee, researched resource material for imagery and content, created a maquette of their proposed design, drew up a budget, and wrote a cover letter for their proposal. The final step was a formal presentation of the proposal to the City Commission and the Redmond Arts Commission.

In the interim between my week in February and my return in April the students were to create a scale line drawing of the entire final mural composition. The completed drawing was to be projected in sections onto the eight  4 ft by 8 ft MDO plywood panels making up the  40 ft wide by 8 ft high mural.

Projecting what portions of the mural line drawing were ready on my return in April, the second week was spent painting the mural. Also during that week, students developed the imagery or connective shapes that were needed to flesh-out the mural beyond the line drawing.

Materials for the mural were donated by Denfield Paints and Miller Lumber, both of Redmond, OR. Kiwanis volunteers constructed and primed the mural panels.
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A view of the mural at the end of the first day's painting session. Colors/shapes are being blocked in.
A view of the mural at the end of the second day's painting session. Some colors/shapes are still being blocked in while others are being refined.
Student paining defining shapes on the depiction of Smith Rock, a well-known formation in the area.
Students paining defining shapes on the depiction of Smith Rock, a well-known formation in the area.
AT LEFT (and continuing down in photo segments:
The mural as completed but yet to be installed.
Scrolling down, the photos show the mural from left to right.

This first photo depicts the early beginning of euro-setllement of the Redmond area, showing the perilous wagon route, Smith Rock (a recognized local land feature  and shown in the mural just behind the green jacket shoulder area), the river-a significant source of water and a quail (representing wildlife). Note the river flows over and across a stylized depiction of the railroad tracks (also very important to the area economic history. The black square is space for a plaque to be added after the mural is installed at Centennial Park in Redmond.
AT LEFT (and continuing down in photo segments:
Figures depicted include Mr. and Mrs. Redmond.
The oxen speak of the agricultural beginnings of Redmond.
AT LEFT (and continuing down in photo segments:
Fields being worked and a family seated outside their tent cabin. Woman carrying a potato harvest is a spin-off from an historical photograph showing a man carrying potatoes. Faculty and city client suggested a preference to show both men and women in the mural as significant to Redmond's history and this was the students' solution.

Note, the railroad track continues across the mural's botton. Also, the blue across the bottom symbolizes the water canal which brought water to pioneering residents.
AT RIGHT (and continuing down in photo segments:
Logging was another important economic factor.
Beyond the logger, is the start of the more contemporary imagery of the mural.
AT RIGHT (and continuing down in photo segments:
The Bird Man is a local and highly recognized figure. Here he has two magpies and a another smaller bird in hand.
In the background, a stylized depiction of the train depot and locomotive on one side and then the other includes the sign of a local long-time ice cream gathering place.
In the foreground, a stylized depiction of an historic church (still standing in Redmond today) and the beginning of the last panel.

Note: The overall style that was being considered was Art Deco as that is what a large number of the older building in Redmond are representative of.
The last panel set shows a cluster of stylized structures representing Redmond today, including the arch across Main Street and the historic iconic signs of the hotel and corner drug/commodity store.
The airplane represents modern travel (in contrast to the horse-drawn wagon in the first panel set) and it also alludes to the area's airport.
The mountains represent the Three Sisters peaks that are within view near Redmond and the snowboarder taking air represents the partial shift from agriculture/logging economy to more of a recreation destination blend.
The saxiphone alludes to the Redmond High School band, which is a top contender in its class.
The music flowing from the saxiphone's bell becomes like water and symbolizes the future's human vitaltiy and importance just as the river was and is important to the community of Redmond.
As with all my residency projects, I keep my hand out of the final product as much as possible---so that the final result is in fact the work of the students.
That said, I have been adding one detail to every mural project completed since December 2009:
A small black cat is hidden somewhere in each mural as a tribute to my little buddy who passed away in December 2009 at the age of about 25 years.
In this project, she sits just outside the cabin tent in the second set of panels.
Click the link below to read about the first week of the two-week residency at the Redmond Proficiency Academy (February 10, 2010 entry: to ad