VALE – Renovation work on one of Vale’s most visible murals is moving ahead, a symbol the long-term project that kicked off last year to restore the iconic paintings splashed across town is gaining momentum.
The work is spearheaded by the Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society and is focused on two murals – one on the south wall of the Vale Liquor Store at East Washington Street East and North 13th Street and a second painting at the Vale Emma Humphrey Library on East A Street.
Renovation of the Sagebrush Annie mural at the Vale Liquor Store will be complete soon while the library mural is scheduled to be refurbished this fall.
The work on the two murals is funded by an $8,000 grant from the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Board, local donations and funds from the Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society.
Completion of the Sagebrush Annie mural by July 15 was timed to coincide with a special celebration about the effort to restore the murals hosted by the Mural Society.
The two murals will not be repainted but instead replaced by a graphic representation of the original paintings.
A graphic image of the mural is created and then an aluminum composite frame constructed. The graphic image of the original painting is then connected to the frame. Then the original painting is removed and the frame placed back onto the wall where the original painting was set. The graphic images work is being done by TNT Signs & Graphics in Ontario. SK Construction Inc. of Vale, will install the panels.
The original murals marked a high point in civic involvement in Vale in the 1990s. The first mural was painted by artist Don Gray in 1993 and 31 more were added. Over time, the murals suffered climate damage and many of the paintings began to fade and now require extensive renovation.
Public meetings in late 2022 hosted by the mural society attempted to revive interest in the effort to renovate the murals.
Two challenges identified during the public meetings was lack of interest in the future of the murals and the struggle to attract volunteers to help with renovations.
When the mural project began in the 1990s, the mural society consisted of many people from across the community. By last fall there were just three or four members.
Frank Yraguen, mural society member, said that since the meetings the “society is gaining members… We have different people assigned for different tasks. So, I feel good that there is more interest by people who want to work with the society.”
The current work, he said, is “a step but we still have lots to do.”
The next major mural renovation project will be the installation of “Patriots on Parade” painting. Plans call for that mural to be placed along a wall of the Dollar General Store at 361 Washington Street W. The mural was originally on the Vale building that once housed the local Masonic Lodge.
“We are requesting permission of the owner of Dollar General to get that one put up,” said Yraguen.
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