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Susan Applegate's Spectacular Kalapuya Lifeways Mural Unveiled at Westmoreland Community Center

Kalapuya Dancer on Applegate Mural.jpg
Photo by Peter Jensen
A Kalapuya ceremonial dancer centers the action on Applegate's new mural.

This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program.

Who doesn't love a treasure hunt? I often talk about the pleasures of pocket galleries, pop-up art shows, and looking for art in surprising places.

Aoplegate atop ladder at Westmoreland Mural.jpg
Muralist Susan Applegate hard at work to finish the mural in time for the July 9 opening festivities.
Photo by Peter Jensen

My treasure hunt challenge for you is to use your app to create a treasure map that will take you to the Westmoreland Community Center and go find the new mural by our great local artist Susan Applegate on the east wall. You’ll have to park and wander around to the wall that faces out into the native Willamette prairie preserve.

Kalapuya Storyteller on Applegate Mural.jpg
Photo by Peter Jensen
The Kalapuya storyteller in the new mural at Westmoreland Community Center tells the story of the Kalapuya lifeways to people of all colors and the iconic animals of the Willamette Valley.

Stand back and take in the whole amazing sixty four feet sweep of the mural. Applegate has designed a continuous, flowing line like a curving wave that moves into and out of a powerful central image of a male Kalapuya dancer in a central mandala.

Overview of Westmoreland Mural.jpg
Photo by Sandy Brown Jensen
Overview of the Westmoreland Mural in process with artist Susan Applegate.

This wave of time represents the local Kalapuya who are the Willamette Valley’s original indigenous residents harvesting and using the native plants growing in the grassland preserve directly in front of the mural.

Some wonderful details are quietly embedded in the scene including the Kalapuya words for dozens of plants and animals. The Kalapuya had a complex basket culture; look closely for all the different kinds for sieving, for berry-picking, for acorn gathering, to use in water.

Details of zones in Applegate Mural.jpg
Photo by Peter Jensen
The wave of time divides Susan Applegate's new mural into seasonal zones

In addition to the beauty of the wave line composition and attention to lifeways detail, note Applegate’s contrasting panels of colors, the juxtaposition of human and natural curves, the meadows of wildflowers, the rivers of fish and fishermen, lamprey and lamprey catchers.

There are so many ways to appreciate this masterwork as both an artistic achievement and a lesson in culture and ecology.

Camas digging stick detail.jpg
Photo by Peter Jensen
This detail from the mural shows the Kalapuya digging stick used for harvesting camas bulbs. The camas flower is identified in both Kalapuya and English.

The Westmoreland Community Center mural is one of those treasures worth finding. The grand opening is July 9 with lots of family festivities planned. I hope you find your way there.

This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.

Sandy Brown Jensen has an MFA in Poetry and is a retired writing instructor from Lane Community College. She is an artist and a photographer with a lifetime interest in looking at and talking about art. Sandy hosts KLCC's long-running arts review program Viz City.