“All Together The Dalles” is coming together at The Dalles Art Center.
The art center’s latest project is a collage of the city’s landmarks and well-known locations destined to become a mural on the current The Dalles Chronicle building at 811 E. Second St. downtown The Dalles, said Scott Stephenson, executive director of the center.
Stephenson commissioned artist Beth Kerschen to photograph and compile buildings and landmarks of The Dalles into a single frame.
“With art there’s a real opportunity to connect people,” Stephenson said of the project. “It can go beyond social and economic boundaries and political boundaries, so to me this community is just a huge opportunity on both fronts.”
Kerschen began working on the project in June, compiling different photos and angles of the city’s buildings. Kerschen spent nearly 970 hours working on the project, which she completed in August.
“I’ve always loved towns and urban environments,” Kerschen said. “As I was wanting to develop my own (artistic) voice I realized how much I like the urban landscape and I would take individual pictures of what I saw. But, that one picture didn’t fully depict what I loved about the urban environment, town or city.”
Among the locations depected in “All Together The Dalles” are the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, Baldwin Saloon, Wasco County Courthouse, Spooky’s Pizza, Cannon Packer Gift Shop and Granada Theater.
The area’s landscape is used as the background, with the Columbia River, The Dalles Dam, the rolling hills near Stacker Butte and a distant mountain all making an appearance.
Kerschen’s work will be displayed on a larger scale as a mural on the side of The Dalles Chronicle’s office on Second Street. Panel sections of the mural are currently being painted and will be assembled and revealed in the spring of 2020.
The painting is being led by Chris Pothier, who has help from around 10 volunteers ranging in age from teenagers to people in their 60s.
Volunteers are all from the community, which continues the idea of “All Together The Dalles.”
“The biggest thing is getting the word out,” Pothier said. “I did a talk up at the high school to Brian Greeley’s careers class and told them about what I do for a living and I told them about this project and there were a couple of students interested in the arts.”
Potential interested volunteers naturally show up when they visit the art center, Pothier said. That initial visit shows a person’s interests, he said.
Pothier wanted to be part of the of this project because he loves The Dalles. As the project developed, Pothier needed more volunteers to help paint the panels.
“Bringing the volunteers was beneficial for me but it also made this project what it’s all about, which is about the community, about All Together The Dalles,” Pothier said. “I’m proud of being involved with it. The thing about being an artist is you do it for multiple reasons. You don’t become an artist to make money.
“You become an artist because you believe in your work, you love doing what you do and serving your fellow citizens.”
Prints of the artwork sized at 53 inches by 16.5 inches or 21 inches by 26 inches are available for purchase at alltogetherthedalles.com. Proceeds support the funding of the project.
The Dalles Art Center held its 62nd annual art auction Nov. 9 at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center. The Havana themed auction had nearly 200 attendants and aimed to raise funds for the center.
The event raised around $50,000 for the art center. Nearly $40,000 was raised through auctioned items, along with roughly $10,000 in ticket sales.
At the event Matthew Klebes, president of the board of directors for the center, said the art center cannot exist without the support of the community and volunteers.
Scott Stephenson, executive director of the art center, said the auction could not have happened without the help from the art auction committee.
“We were really thankful to have Carmen Toll come and assist Julie Skoll-Watsworth helping her with being a co-chair of the art auction. Julie did a fantastic job with all the graphic design, utilized her skills in the wine business,” Stephenson said. “Also, Kelsey Dobo and the tremendous effort she put in to making hand-dyed tea towels, Susan Julian and Talie Kingsburi.”