By DON McINTOSH
A new mural in Springfield honoring local labor history will be dedicated in a public celebration September 8 after several years of effort and fundraising by the local labor community.
The mural adorns the wall of a parking lot at the Academy of Arts and Academics, a public high school in Springfield known as A3.
It replaces an older mural on a private building that was allowed to deteriorate. Located at 448 Main Street, the Jessie Bostelle Memorial Mural had come out of a school and community project led by local artist Alison McNair. Dedicated in 2001, it memorialized workers and especially Jessie Bostelle, a longtime Lane County SEIU 503 leader, who died in 1999. Labor activists asked Springfield City Council for help rescuing the mural, but the building owner wasn’t interested in restoring the mural or moving it.
At that point, mural defenders decided to move ahead with a replacement, and labor groups raised $19,390 from local unions, union supporters, and Springfield City Council to fund a new mural.
Lane Arts Council contracted with artist in residence Alejandro Sarmiento to lead the project, and this spring he worked with art teacher Nissie Ellison and an honors class of A3 art students to paint the mural on aluminum panels.
The new mural is 65 feet long and 8 feet high, and is titled, “Labor Builds Community – El Obrerismo Construye Comunidad.” It consists of six sections that move through time from left to right, starting in the 1890s. The first five sections focus on the local economy — timber, agriculture, education, health care, and government workers — and are meant to be snapshots of what the work was like in those sectors during the eras depicted. The sixth section depicts a labor rally with picket signs displaying the values unions stand for. The mural also contains the words of a song called “Pass It On” from a 1960s movie about the early 20th century immigrant experience.
- WHEN 5–7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8
- WHERE Academy of Arts and Academics, a public high school at 645 Main Street, Springfield.
- WHAT TO EXPECT The dedication event will include music by Kwaziwai Marimba Band and an opportunity to meet mural artist Alejandro Sarmiento and the high school art students who contributed. The event is timed to coincide with the monthly second Friday art walk, and will be followed by a downtown Springfield block party.