Drexel awarded state grant for interactive art project in Vale

The Drexel H. Foundation is a Vale nonprofit for the arts. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

VALE – The Drexel H. Foundation is on a financial roll, winning yet another state grant to support local artwork.

The Oregon Arts Commission announced last week it was awarding $4,313 to the Vale-based foundation as part of the state’s “Arts Build Communities” program.

Last October, the foundation was awarded $5,108 by the Oregon Cultural Trust. In July, it won a $10,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The latest grant will fund an effort to create painted plywood scenes to be posted around Vale, according to the foundation’s application for the grant.

Sandijean Fuson, foundation president, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The project envisions high school students submitting proposed designs this spring, with 10 to 12 to be selected.

“The scene could focus on agriculture with cut outs of tractors, cornstalks, wheat, onions, etc. These cut outs would be attached to a post and stuck in the ground,” according to the application.

The artwork will be overseen by Kacie Shaffer, a Vale High School art teacher who also privately teaches art. The budget for the project allocates $1,500 to her as an artist fee and she would donate another $500 in services. Shaffer said in an email her role in the project would be separate from her teaching job.

She said the idea came after she attended an art conference and “learned about an artist who created larger-than-life cutouts of fish” left for the public to paint.

Shaffer described the concept of crowds during the Fourth of July celebration having the ability to “make their mark” by participating in painting Vale figures.

“My initial idea was to create cutouts of images associated with the Oregon Trail or around agriculture,” Shaffer said.

The timing of Vale’s project depends on the pandemic.

“A highly interactive display meant for gathering groups of people is not necessarily the smartest idea until restrictions are changed to allow more social and physical interaction,” Shaffer said.

The foundation said Shaffer “will provide and insure artistic excellence for the pieces and the scenes they create,” the application said.

Another Vale High School teacher, Bob Phillips, “will supervise our adult volunteers in transferring the outline of the shape onto the wood, and cutting out the plywood prior to painting the pieces,” the application said. He is donating $500 worth of services, it said.

The project was devised by high school students, artists, community leaders and the foundation, the application said.

“We have sections of town where citizens have complained of junk in yards on the main thoroughfare and demanded the property owners build fences,” the application said. “Replacing these unsightly areas with large-scale artworks and cutouts can solve this conflict.”

The painting would be done over the summer with installation around Vale in the fall and a community celebration before the end of the year, the application said.

The project will cost $22,975 with $11,500 being provided as an in-kind donation for legal services and grant management by the Fuson Law Office. Supplies are budgeted to cost $3,725.

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