The Path to Joy and Unity - Ashland, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 42° 11.923 W 122° 42.938
10T E 523476 N 4671879
These series of painted panels are monumented underneath the Water Street overpass in downtown Ashland, OR.
Waymark Code: WMHY9B
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 08/26/2013
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 5

Visitors walking through the popular tourist destination of downtown Ashland, OR might come across a number of painted panels that have been monumented underneath the Water Street overpass. There are eight panels total, and they depict scenes of the life in and around Ashland, as well as a biblical scene of the Garden of Eden. There is also a winding path underneath the painted panels to create an overall aesthetic impression as one walks under the overpass.

I located an article from the Mail Tribune in nearby Medford, OR and highlights this art project and reads:

It probably hasn't been done since the Sistine Chapel, but Ashland has leaped into the field of overhead public art, with eight huge canvasses bolted to the underside, not of a church, but a state highway overpass in the middle of downtown.

The brainchild of developer Lloyd Haines, it's the capstone for beautification of the once trashy parking area, now turned into public picnic tables and a landscaped, winding path by Ashland Creek, across from Kobe Restaurant, Creekside Pizza Bistro and Jefferson State Pub.

It will stage its opening at First Friday art walk at 5 p.m. this evening.

The eight panels, all acrylics by local artists and all focused on the theme of hopes for human joy and unity, require craning of the neck, but it's well worth it because the improbably placed art takes the breath away.

"It's a joyful collaboration of the artists, stepping out of our own personal reality and going on the path to joy and unity. You bring the best of yourself to that path," says Ashland artist and gallery owner Denise Baxter, who chose themes of butterflies, hummingbirds, flowers and lovely hills. "It says we're all living in the same world and we've got to live together."

Haines, who is owner in the surrounding buildings, fostered the creation last year of the wooden totem pole called "We Are Here," which he says brought about a celebration of joy and unity between whites and American Indians. It stands on North Main Street, at the top of the "Path to Joy and Unity" that passes under the paintings.

The statue, path and paintings all bring "a higher vibratory rate that people should aspire toward, rather than anger and hatred," said Haines, as workers on a cherry-picker bolted the paintings in eight concrete bays beneath the Lithia Way overpass.

Haines installed the murals without permission from either the Oregon Department of Transportation, which owns the property, or the city, which regulates murals as business signs. He told the Ashland Daily Tidings the project would now serve as a challenge to the city's restrictive sign code. City officials said a person who puts up an illegal sign can receive a citation and a fine of up to $500 a day.

"We'll see what happens," Haines told the Tidings. "If they ask for it to be taken down, I think there will be an outcry in the art community and in the community at large. I think the outcome will be that the sign ordinance will be changed."

Two panels, called "The Tree of Life," portray a nude man and woman in a seaside Eden, with shadowy faces of children and all earth's creatures, "all part of the symbiotic relationship of working together," says Ashland artist Robert Paulmenn. "The earth is the organism we all live on and we have to protect her." Artists' statements will be

hung on the railing, where the pathway crosses over the creek. The statement of Judith Falconer of Grants Pass notes that her paintings, one of polar bears and penguins, the other of a man swimming with dolphins, portray the striving for spiritual enlightenment.

"Other than the soul's journey, we have nothing," she wrote.

The two panels of Talent artist Joseph Crowell portray idyllic farm scenes, one with honeybees amid sunflowers, the other of humans amid their crops — a cooperative community that he hopes is realistic in the near future, he wrote.

"The flowers and bees are a vital connection in the web of life. It reminds me of my connection to the world," he wrote.

A beaming Haines joked that such overhead art probably hasn't been done since Michelangelo painted the Vatican ceiling five centuries ago — and he hopes the idea spreads to the thousands of unused urban overpasses in the country.

"It's a permanent exhibition and I think the reaction of the public is going to be that it's the best thing since Swiss cheese," says Haines. "It was a dump, a homeless camp. I hope it's received now with the grace that it was given."

There is also a bronze plaque monumented on a small boulder that makes a bench underneath the panels and was formally dedicated to the City of Ashland and reads:

"The Path to Joy and Unity"

A collaborative artisitc creation by
Denise Baxter, Joseph Crowell,
Judith Falconer and Robert Paulmenn.

Given to the Citizens of
Ashland by Lloyd Matthew Haines.

Public Arts Commission 2009.

*NOTE* I only took pictures of a few of the panels since my cell phone was having trouble taking good pictures in the darker lighting under the overpass. I welcome visitors' picture contributions of the remaining panels! I am also a frequent visitor of Ashland and will try to upload more pictures in the future.

City: Ashland

Location Name: Lithia Way Bridge

Artist: Denise Baxter, Joseph Crowell, Judith Falconer and Robert Haines

Date: 2007 and 2009

Media: Acryllic paints on metal

Relevant Web Site: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and description of your visit. One original photo of the mural must also be submitted. GPSr photo NOT required.
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