LEBANON — People now can admire artwork in the heart of Lebanon. 

The Lebanon Arts Commision asked four artists to volunteer their time and each create a 4- by 6-foot painting for Strawberry Plaza. Those paintings were unveiled at the plaza Wednesday afternoon.

The arts Commission, which was formed in early 2017, asked for people to pitch their ideas  and had selected the artists before the end of the year. The first artists selected are Rachel Urista, Tammie Atwood, Eileen Hinckle and Alisha Whitman.

Urista unveiled her painting of colors that reflect the flora and fauna of the natural area found near the rivers in the Willamette Valley. 

"Our rivers and meadows are places of wonder and beauty and I have tried to capture that here using large gestural sweeps of color, and integrating pencil marks and texture to create the layering we see in nature," Urista said. "The flowers were a great joy to paint. They ended about being one foot large. My hope is that painting for you will evoke that same sense of joy when spring comes around in the valley." 

Atwood unveiled her painting of two fish swimming in the river. 

The plaque dedicated under her painting stated: "My inspiration is my floating and boating trips between Sweet Home and Lebanon. Watching the fisherman and enjoying the water." 

"I moved here a year and a half ago and I feel very fortunate to be in this town, and I get to enjoy the water away from the big city," Atwood said at the unveiling. 

Hinckle was unable to make the unveiling because she lives in Peru. So her father, Peter Hinckle, read a statement aloud from his daughter about her painting of an arm holding a strawberry in a berry field. 

"This painting is dedicated to the strawberries and the men and women who work in the fields," said Eileen Hinckle in the statement. "Though they play a very important role in this society, their work is underappreciated. The image is inspired by the dedication and effort of these people. I would like to take this opprotunity to thank them for their hard work." 

Whitman unveiled her painting of a stormy sky over Peterson's Butte with rays of sunshine bursting through the clouds. 

"I was driving home one night with my kids and I was gasping 'look at those clouds!' And I pulled the car over and took pictures (of Peterson's Butte)," Whitman said. "That's the scene I chose to depict, it was bright and hopeful despite that storm coming in." 

Putting art in more public spaces was identified as a goal during Lebanon's visioning process, said Gary Marks, Lebanon's city manager at the unveiling ceremony.   

The art will be on display for six months to a year; however, the eventual goal is to have a new piece of artwork up every two months, Marks said.  

"That way every time you come to the plaza, you'll have something new to look at," Marks said. 

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