Scene & Heard, Springfield

Making art accessible for everyone

Daphne Mantis has been the Springfield Arts Commission board chair for two out of her three years as a commissioner. Formerly an attorney, in retirement she has started to take art classes and fuels her love of art through the Commission. ALIYA HALL/THE CHRONICLE

SPRINGFIELD – The goal of the Springfield Arts Commission (SAC) is to make art accessible for everyone in the city.
”To me, that means it needs to be very public,” SAC Board Chair Daphne Mantis said. ”You don’t have to go out of your way or spend money to see art. Whether or not people articulate it, it enhances our environment and provides beauty every day.”
The commission was established in 1986 by city council in conjunction with the Centennial Celebration and focuses on promoting, restoring and funding both art and artists across all mediums. The Commission is made up of nine volunteers, and has been busy with the new projects coming its way.
Across from the City Hall Gallery, within the month the commission is going to start a young artists’ gallery to complement the adults’. It is also going to start restoring the Oregon Trail mural as well as help with the design and judging of the new Welcome to Springfield mural and crosswalk paintings.
Coming up, the commission will also be partnering with Willamalane for a mural commemorating their 75 years, which will in part be community-painted.
”We’re so active now, we have subcommittees,” Mantis said: ”Public art, outreach, gallery, second Friday art walks and marketing.”
Past projects have included the Luigi Testa sculpture garden, which houses donated, industrial, rusted-iron art pieces near the Millrace bike path.
The commissioners volunteering all have ties to the art world. One ran a gallery in Washington D.C. for 15 years, another works at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum and many are artists.
”We have an overqualified team,” Mantis said. ”I’m amazed they want to volunteer, (but) they love art. It’s a dedicated, energetic group.”
Mantis was an attorney in Juvenile Court before she retired in December 2016; the following month she became a commissioner. She has volunteered for three years, two of which she has served as board chair. She has since started to take art classes and discovered her love of art.
”Now that I’m a retired person, I didn’t think I was an artist but thought I could be helpful, perhaps, now that I have time,” she said. ”I got involved because I knew I’d have more time to pursue art. I knew it was something I wanted to spend time supporting and being involved in.”
The biggest challenge facing the Commission is that it has so much going on and the commissioners are coming up with many big ideas, but Mantis is the only retired person.
”Everyone else is younger and full-time employed. Many have families,” she explained. ”It’s a lot to balance, plus every big idea we have requires more volunteer hours – that’s the big challenge. So far we’ve been able to balance, but it’s hard because people have challenging jobs and this is a volunteer one.”
At this point, the Commission is accepting applications for new members. It’s recommended to attend one Commission meeting and the application deadline is Oct. 25; applications are on the Springfield website.
Mantis said that her time with the commission has been positive and she appreciates the feedback they get when they do public shows.
”It’s the appreciation you hear of ‘I didn’t know this was here.’ People from Springfield went to the mural tour and didn’t know all the murals we showed,” she said. ”That’s the most rewarding.”



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