ONTARIO — Work on two permanent murals stretched out from Friday through Sunday in the downtown corridor, as artists from Boise and Portland put their personal touches on paintings that encompass nearly entire sidewalls of two downtown businesses.
The project was punctuated with a pop-up art festival dubbed Eastern Oregon Mural Festival in Moore Park. The festival featured live art, including painting, glassblowing along with screen printing and block printing of T-shirts, and was held about a block away from Vintage Rose and Aaerstad Fitness, the recipients of the permanent murals. The local businesses did not have to pay a single cent for the artwork that went up on their walls, as it was a gift from Treasure Valley Cannabis Company, a future Ontario dispensary, which paid for the permanent artwork to be installed. The reason: Investing into public artwork in their future community.
The future recreational marijuana retailer had originally aimed to install murals on four businesses but two ended up declining. However, since then the owner of Familia Figueroa, a Mexican clothing store that sits inside the old home of Quisenberry’s, has changed his mind since seeing the murals go up over the weekend.
Chase Muromoto, marketing manager for the dispensary, said on Sunday morning that he thinks language was initially a barrier in approaching the man about the project.
“I think it takes one to jump in and do something,” said Tracy Hammond, owner of the Vintage Rose, who sees the mural donations as a win-win.
Prior to the mural’s installation, Hammond said she heard a lot of negative feedback in the community because of the project’s connection to the marijuana industry. However, since the mural is now up, Hammond said she has not had one negative comment.
Instead, people are now saying to Hammond, “Good for you,” and “It’s beautiful,” she said.
“It is amazing,” she said of the project. “Those boys worked day and night for three days. Oh my God, what a fabulous gift that those guys gave Ontario.”
The artwork features Hammond’s granddaughters, Emma Fulwyler, 7, and Charlie Fulwyler, 5, both of Vale. Hammond said Charlie told her older sister, “We finally did it,” when the mural was finished and they were standing outside to get their photos taken with the artists from Sector 17, out of Boise. Artists who worked on the project included Ian Fahey, Seton, Mawk and Elms, the latter of which went by their art names.
The artist who worked on Aarestad Fitness, Forest Wolf Kell, hailed from Portland, along with his assistant, who goes by Yachterboat. A request for comment from Aarestad was not returned by press time.
When Emma sister responded with “Did what?” Charlie replied “We’re famous.”
When asked what she thought about her daughter’s being painted into a permanent project, Amy Fulwyler, responded with, “I love it.”
It brought tears to her eyes to see her daughters on the building. Hammond echoed that sentiment, saying she nearly tears up every time she sees it.
Hammond said Jeremy Archie’s investment into his future business city is a “win-win.”
“I think it was awesome that one dispensary brought Snoop Dogg,” she said, referring to the grand opening party of Hotbox Farms on Oct. 5. “However, this is actually beautifying Ontario and that’s worth a million. It’s a positive, positive thing for this little town that hasn’t changed in a years.”
Saying she can not express enough thanks to all involved, Hammond said she has “been getting all the glory for it, and I didn’t do anything but say ‘Yes.’”
Hammond said she is making sure to let everyone know who asks her about the mural who was funding the project.
“I don’t understand why people where so against it, it’s so breathtaking,” she said of the murals.
In addition, she mentioned that people had traveled from Fruitland and Vale on Saturday to see the mural and talk to her about it, and is hopeful it will spur other businesses to do something in a similar vein to spur further attractions for visitors.