Mural contest

Conceptual drawings of the Freewater Square plaza. The Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance is seeking entries for a mural contest as part of the project.

MILTON-FREEWATER — The Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance is looking for people to paint the town.

Plans are underway to create the Freewater Square plaza. It will be located in an underused lot on the corner of North Main and Fifth Avenue.

The creation of Freewater Square is envisioned as a community gathering place, said Julie Culjak, executive director of the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance. The year-round plaza is planned to offer space where people of all ages can meet up to play games, listen to music or watch a movie. She likens it to making Downtown Freewater a “community living room.”

The project, Culjak said, is a precursor to developing a permanent marketing area on Union Pacific property at North Main next to Garret Packing. The idea, she said, is to create a plaza area that will offer year-round activities and provide an entertainment venue for community concerts and movie nights.

“We’ve been wanting to improve our downtown district,” Culjak said “People seem to be gravitating to these types of plazas.”

The area would offer such things as an outdoor movie screen, ping-pong, cornhole boards, foosball tables, board games, exercise equipment, and tables and chairs. In addition, it would feature small business incubator cabins. Culjak said the goal is to support the development of those businesses to the point that they could grow and move into empty spaces in the downtown district.

As part of the Freewater Square project, the downtown alliance is holding a mural competition and is seeking artists to submit designs. Plans include the installation of four individual wall panels.

The project is open to all artists living in Umatilla and Union counties in Oregon, and Columbia and Walla Walla counties in Washington. Participants may be individual artists or teams of two-three members. The team leader must be at least 18 years old.

There is no entry fee to submit a design for consideration. The finalists, who will paint their winning mural, will receive a cash award of $500. The mural installation is currently set for May 1-15. However, the timeframe may be adjusted for weather or community gathering restrictions because of COVID-19.

Themes for the murals, which will measure 15 feet by 15 feet, should highlight Milton-Freewater’s unique culture. Designs could focus on the area’s agriculture, multicultural influences, pioneer history, arts and culture, the Blue Mountains and more. Organizers encourage artists to submit uplifting, colorful, fun and engaging designs that are suitable for community gatherings.

Paint and other materials will be provided. Artists also are welcome to bring their own painting tools.

Funding for the mural contest, Culjak said, comes from the Oregon Community Foundation. It was left over from another Milton-Freewater grant project and must be utilized by May 15.

For more information about the mural contest, including rules, guidelines and an entry form, visit www.mfdowntown.org and click on “Projects.” For questions, contact Culjak at mfda.director@gmail.com or 541-861-1208.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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