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HomeSportViaduct murals add color, warmth to Hawthorne Park – Medford News, Weather,...

Viaduct murals add color, warmth to Hawthorne Park – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Melissa Ghiglieri paints a mural on a pillar under the viaduct at Hawthorne Park in Medford Tuesday. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

One of Melissa Ghiglieri’s new paintings under the Interstate 5 viaduct in Medford. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

More artworks graces the pillars under the Interstate 5 viaduct. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

Melissa Ghiglieri of Jacksonville has been painting the pillars under the viaduct at Hawthorne Park since early October. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

Jacksonville resident Melissa Ghiglieri spent nearly all of October and now half of November a stone’s throw from noisy traffic, illegal and sometimes belligerent campers on the Greenway and steadily dropping temperatures to add some color and warmth to six chilly, gray-colored concrete pillars beneath the freeway viaduct adjacent to Hawthorne Park.

To three mural sections already in place from an initial project in 2015, Ghiglieri added three more sections, front and back, in addition to creating artwork for towering crossbeams.

Decked out in warm clothing, with a heater firmly planted on the floor of a small boom lift, she smiled Tuesday afternoon as she surveyed the imagery created over the past five-and-a-half weeks.

Complete with woodland creatures, charismatic dogs — a nod to the nearby dog park — and some funkier creations, including aliens and a floating astronaut mixed in for skaters who use the nearby ramps, Ghiglieri’s creations were intended to pair with existing murals, but also to add something unique.

A graduate of Cascade Christian and Southern Oregon University, Ghiglieri said the murals have been a labor of love.

“Six weeks. All day, every day. I usually don’t work this time of year because you never know how cold it’s going to get. At a certain point, the cold weather will start to affect how well the paint surface dries,” she said.

“It’s getting colder and colder, so I’m just trying to get done as quick as I can. I paint until the sun goes down … then I’m back at it in the morning.”

With her own sections almost complete, six pairs of pillars soon will boast colorful paintings from the southerly side of Jackson, near Red Robin restaurant, toward the nearby dog park toward Main Street.

Venturing much farther, the final of Ghiglieri’s pillars encroach into the vegetation and lean too far over the creek for access.

Initially the viaduct murals included three sections of “pillar art,” completed in 2015 by Jessilyn Brinkerhoff and Esteban Camacho Steffensen. Initial designs are primarily of nature — large turkeys, deer and other woodland creatures wrap around the poles on both sides.

City Council approved a $60,000 boost for the current project, through the Council Community Initiative Fund, which is derived from marijuana tax revenues.

The original column project was part of $1.6 million in work to remodel Hawthorne Park, also completed in 2015. When the project first began, Oregon Department of Transportation officials kicked in some $14,700 to remove lead-based paint from the columns before the first round of murals began.

City officials say work could eventually be done to complete all the columns between Jackson and Main streets.

Ghiglieri has done murals around the Rogue Valley, including a mural of two hands on the city’s downtown Acme building last summer, and for facilities and schools in cities, including Reno, Shady Cove and Grants Pass.

Once completed, she’s eager for local residents to enjoy her handiwork and for the murals to “bring more people into the park and onto the Greenway.”

“I’m excited for people to be able to come down and see it. It’s kind of a tougher area; I think this brightens it up a bit,” she said, noting that graffiti coating, to prevent graffiti from sticking to the artwork, would be added at the end of the project.

“Everyone always has something to say about where money is spent and about what we end up drawing, but I think art, no matter what, is always a good investment in a community.”

She added, “It really brings a lot of color, and it just feels good. It adds a little more life and some culture … It really elevates a space.”

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or bpollock@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal

Abdullah Anaman
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