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Paint party: Community turns out to help with Auburn mural

Jan. 21 is expected completion date
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Volunteers came out in droves Saturday to pick up paint and brushes and make their mark on a piece of Auburn history.

Their canvas was the wall on the side of Rico’s Barber Shop and Depoe Bay Coffee Co., off of High Street, which will soon display a mural of the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. It was designed by Auburn artist Archie Warren and spearheaded by the Auburn Arts Commission. City Council approved the mural in November for a cost of $1,500 and donations from the community.

Saturday’s event invited members of the community to start painting the colorful mural, under the guidance of Warner and members of the arts commission, including mural project director Rob Turner. The crew outlined the main bridge and key points using chalk and a projected image, and gave each painter a copy of what the completed mural will look like to work from.

To view a photo gallery from the painting party, click here.

“We’ve had over 100 people come out,” Warren said. “It’s really enthusiastic. Everybody wants to paint, everybody wants to help it along, everybody wants to be a part of it. It’s really cool, all kinds of energy – it’s really positive, it’s really exciting.”

Saturday’s volunteers worked on the lower half of the mural, and Warren said that afterward he and crew members will work on ladders or lifts to finish the upper half. Warren said he expects the mural to be completed by Jan. 21.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the bridge’s opening, which is part of the reason lifelong Auburn resident Thomas Toy decided to take part in the day’s festivities.

“I’ve seen this bridge in all of its glory, whether it was flooded in ’86 or jogged across it when I was 10 years old,” he said. “I think it’s a really iconic symbol of the community.”

Many people brought their children to help paint, guiding small hands as they added to the colorful mural. Matthew Burns, of Auburn, painted while his 2-year-old daughter, Soleil, helped with the high parts while seated on her father’s shoulders.

“It’s an opportunity to be part of the community event,” Burns said, “and then now, for the next 15 or 20 years, she’ll know that that’s Soleil’s rock, right there.”

That sentiment was echoed by Jason Long of Auburn, who brought sons Camper, 4, and Beckett, 1, to the event. He supervised Camper, whose artistic spirit often led him outside the lines.

“It’s the kind of thing that I would love to be able to tell him, in a couple of years when he’s forgotten about having been here, that he was here and helped paint it,” Jason Long said.

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com.