Fountain of life: Park monument continues to gather support

October 2017 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community
Sonja Wagoner in the fountain at Coolidge McClaine Park

Sonja Wagoner in the fountain at Coolidge McClaine Park

By Melissa Wagoner

When people ask Christine Carlisle when the fountain at Coolidge McClaine Park in Silverton will be finished she laughs and says, “It’ll be done when it’s done.”

Started in 2014 by a Ford Foundation Leadership Team, the fountain has taken much longer and more work than anyone originally thought.

“It was a huge learning process,” Carlisle, the facilitator for the project, said. “I didn’t meet this group until about one and a half years in and I said, ‘Do you realize this is an architectural mosaic?’”

The team originally thought the fountain could be rebuilt upon the original structure without any changes but soon learned that reinforcement would be necessary in order to support the artistic addition.

“It completely had to be refinished and we didn’t expect that so it was a huge expense,” implementation team member Aba Gayle said.

“There’s so much rebar it’s not going anywhere,” Carlisle added.

The impressive fountain centerpiece, which was added by crane this summer, was created by local painter Laura Lucero with a special scene on each of the four sides.  Much of the fountain work was done by novices taught by  Carlisle during short seminars.

“Over 500 people have worked on the fountain,” Carlisle said. “Untold hours – we’re talking thousands of volunteer hours now. It’s real labor. You end up with a handful of people who are there workshop after workshop.”

Two of the handful who have handled much of the finish work are artists Mara’d Van der Wal and Cindi Bates, both members of the original leadership team. Along with Carlisle and Gayle they are currently, finishing the grout and making the fountain winter-ready. The group is also working to form an LLC and partner with a non-profit in order to fund the remaining work and future maintenance. The plan is to create a friendship group along with a webpage and a crowdfunding account.

“This is technically on city property but it’s really good to have the people who created it work with them to maintain it,” Carlisle explained.

With so many hands having left their mark on the fountain’s 125 panels so far, Carlisle is hoping to continue garnering volunteer support.

“When I finally took off the pressure about getting it done in one summer I realized what is going on with the people is more important,” she said. “The beautiful thing about this fountain is the volunteers come in and you get them going and I hear two people that are telling their stories and it’s a place of connections. It’s about community. All of us have our broken pieces and we’re putting them back together. It’s a fountain of healing – a fountain of life.”

Many of the volunteers have been Silverton residents, with workshops held at the Silverton Senior Center every week for over four months, but some have come from far away.

“One person that working with me today is from Chile,” Carlisle said. “Over there she wove what was a necklace, one for her mother and one for her sister whom she remembers.”

Although the weather is turning, Carlisle hopes to fit in a few more work parties and welcomes helpers whenever she is working on-site, which is most days.

The implementation group is working on coming up with an annual fundraiser and welcomes monetary donations.

“We want to overpay our artist. That’s one of our goals,” Gayle said, smiling at Carlisle. “How do you pay an artist what they’re worth?”

Coolidge McClaine Park Fountain Project
Information:  Aba Gayle, 503-930-0670

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