Graphic designer and artist of the posters, Chloe Bradford,shows her work at last week’s Springfield Retro Art Series launch and poster signing at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center on Gateway Street. The posters feature the Ken Kesey Mural, the Oregon Women Veterans Memorial sculpture and the Flame. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
SPRINGFIELD – Art is smart, and Springfield just got smarter.
The City of Springfield and Travel Lane County last week hosted a launch party for a new retro art series highlighting Springfield landmarks, featuring unique Springfield destinations such as the Flame, the Oregon Women Veterans Memorial sculpture and the Ken Kesey Mural.
The retro art series ”is a way to showcase unique destinations within Springfield,” said Amber Fossen, public information officer for the City of Springfield. It is also part of the Springfield City Council’s goal to promote and enhance the city’s hometown feel.
”We provided a lot of input on what we hoped to see and we were incredibly impressed by the design,” Fossen said. ”The response we’ve received so far has been incredible.”
Graphic designer and artist of the posters, Chloe Bradford, has worked with the City for several years on different projects. She said they showed her an example of the style they were going for, which is a modern twist on the National Parks-style posters that are trending at the moment.
Bradford said the experience was a learning curve because she’s not technically an illustrator, and she did a lot of research on the style and photographing of the sites to make sure she had the right angles and placement.
”It was a fun challenge – fun projects that pushed me artistically,” Bradford said. ”I love trying new things.”
All of the destinations featured have a backstory. Fossen said that the idea for the poster of the Springfield Flame was part of the project plan when the piece was installed years ago.
For the Oregon Women Veterans Memorial and Downtown Springfield posters, Bradford met with city officials on location to discuss what other elements they wanted to showcase in the background about Springfield’s history and culture.
Bradford added that there was a lot of symbolism or ”Easter eggs” that went into the posters, with the background of the flame and downtown posters incorporating different Springfield elements.
For instance, the Oregon Women’s Veterans Memorial also had tokens to represent something specific to each military branch, such as the falcon for the Air Force and the rock for the Army. The African violets represented togetherness and hope with the American flag flying in the background.
It’s important imagery to get right. There was a lot riding on that sculpture a few years ago – especially if you ask Lois Price, of Springfield, who sat on the committee that helped carve out the vision for the sculpture.
The Oregon Women Veterans Memorial committee was comprised entirely of women. All locals, they represented all five branches of the military, including two Marines.
Price was one of those Marines.
She showed up to Thursday’s event to grab a signed copy of the Oregon Women Veterans Memorial poster. On her neck, a polished chunk of bronze dangles from a chain – the same material that forged the sculpture of ”The Lionesses” in Willamalane Park.
For Price, seeing that sculpture, now in the form of a poster, symbolizes the perpetuity of a job well done a few years ago. What was once a pipe dream is now considered one of the three main landmarks in Springfield.
Price, who was in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, remembers back to 2015 when the City of Springfield was trying to give legs to a women veterans’ memorial. At the time, there were no women veterans’ memorials in the state.
Springfield wanted to be its first.
The City of Springfield applied for grants and the project gained momentum, though some men were notably disgruntled and the subject made many in the community uncomfortable, she said.
Women veterans – particularly of the past – are ”the ghost veterans of service,” Price said. That’s why a memorial such as this is so important, she said, ”to honor those who have come before us. They are the ones who have made it possible for (women veterans) and women of the future to serve.”
The committee developed objectives and characteristics for this public art piece based mostly on what they didn’t want, Price said. The committee didn’t want anything with uniforms, because there are different uniforms within each branch.
They didn’t want a stereotypical representation. They wanted something more fierce. The committee wanted to represent the past, the present and the future of women veterans.
”People would say, ‘nice try, but never gonna happen,’” Price said of the memorial.
Eighteen months later, in collaboration with the City and the committee, over 300 people showed up for the unveiling of the sculpture on Veterans Day 2017. It is the first women veterans memorial in the state of Oregon.
If interested in an Oregon Women Veterans Memorial poster, or any of the others, the Springfield Museum at 590 Main St. has a limited amount of posters available for sale during regular business hours.
Proceeds from the sale of this series will allow the City to help support future public art projects in Springfield.