VALE – City officials and members of the Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society want to gather feedback from residents regarding the future of the more than 30 murals that dot the town.
They plan a community meeting for Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Vale Senior Citizen Center to gather input.
The meeting, sponsored by the Vale Chamber of Commerce, the Vale Community Coalition, the city and Vale senior citizens is designed to map a future for the murals, many of which are far past their prime and need repairs.
Les Zaitz, Malheur Enterprise publisher, will moderate the session.
“It is to determine what the future should be – whether we should preserve them in some manner. We have to have enough interest to be able to do so,” said Frank Yraguen, a member of the mural society.
Vale has 32 murals and the first one – done in 1993 by artist Don Gray – was painted on the North Court Street side of the Malheur Drug building. The mural is titled “The New Arrivals” and depicts pioneers leaving Keeney Pass on the way to Vale.
Finding a way to preserve the murals was a key goal for the society from the moment the ambitious project began in 1992.
“We don’t know how long they will actually hold up. So far, we’ve had some good success but a painted mural has an estimated life span of only 25 years,” said Yraguen.
Yraguen said the society is in an “interesting situation as regards to preservation.”
“We are told when we apply for grants now that, No. 1, most of the grants are given to new endeavors. Ours are old. The second thing is why would you want murals, you already have 32 and No. 3 we don’t give grants for maintenance of existing projects,” said Yraguen.
Local curiosity, he said, in the murals in general and joining the mural society in particular has waned over the years, said Yraguen.
“There is really not the interest in actually being a part of these endeavors as there has been in the past,” he said.
Yraguen said there are only six members of the mural society and “we all live out of town.”
Todd Fuller, Vale city manager, said the community “needs to do something with them.”
“They (the murals) are kind of a main attraction here in Vale. I think it needs to be addressed to figure out how we get other community members involved,” said Fuller.
Mayor Tom Vialpando said he is looking forward to the community meeting.
“Maybe we can get a group formed to go out and look for some funds to restore them,” said Vialpando. “The city of Vale would be able to help in any way we can, though I know we don’t have any dedicated funds for the murals.”
He said the murals are an important part of the city because they can be “a destination for folks who come in and that is a big help to our businesses.”
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM – Available for $7.50 a month. Subscribe to the digital service of the Enterprise and get the very best in local journalism. We report with care, attention to accuracy, and an unwavering devotion to fairness. Get the kind of news you’ve been looking for – day in and day out from the Enterprise.