With no fanfare and no apparent controversy, a public art project is poised to beautify a nondescript wall on a commercial building on Siskiyou Boulevard. It should be a welcome addition to the south end of the city — if enough donations are received to cover the cost.
Ashland artist Krista Hepford went door to door in the neighborhood around Abbey Carpet and Floor, getting 100 percent approval. The store is contributing some funding, and Hepford has launched a GoFundMe page to raise the rest.
Hepford's vision, titled "Uplifting," is a mural incorporating stones and found objects, many of them discards from the store. Her design depicts two faces in profile, with hands reaching out to each other.
The project has been reviewed by the Public Art Commission and approved by the City Council. The finished work will become part of the city's public art collection, but the city is not responsible for maintaining it.
Unlike the firestorm of criticism that greeted the public art project slated for the Gateway Island at the south entrance to the downtown Plaza area, this venture seems to have proceeded quietly, perhaps because no tax dollars are involved and perhaps because it will be installed on a private building, not public property.
The project also features the work of a local artist, something critics said was missing from the Gateway project.
Hepford's effort demonstrates that public artwork need not be divisive, and can proceed with support from neighbors and businesses. We find that uplifting.