Rhett Iverson came to the initial Youth Outreach Street Art Competition in Roseburg on Saturday with an idea.
The 17-year-old Roseburg High School senior brought a magazine photo of a fisherman holding up his catch as inspiration for the picture he was going to spray paint on a plywood canvas.
Iverson inserted a Native American into the scene, rather than the fisherman. Looking from the side, the Indian gazed out over a forest of trees and a colorful sunset.
The piece symbolized the sun setting on Roseburg High’s use of “Indians” as its mascot. Iverson said he’s half Native American and disagrees with a recent state Board of Education order for Roseburg, the North Douglas Warriors, Reedsport Braves and a dozen other Oregon schools to replace their Native American mascots.
“I’m trying to say there’s still no freedom,” Iverson said.
Iverson was one of nine individuals and teams of artists who took part in the competition, held outside the Phoenix School. Organizers hope to make it an annual event and to hold it in a different venue next time so that more people will see the artists at work.
“Street art has become recognized as a legitimate art form,” said Harry Mullins, an official with the Runaway & Homeless Youth Outreach Program, which sponsored the contest. “Anytime you can get a positive outlet for this kind of artistic expression is good for them and good for the community.”
Iverson was one of several young artists between 15 and 20 years old who wielded cans of spray paint for the first time Saturday.
“It’s a definite challenge,” said Dalton Croucher, 17, also a Roseburg High senior.
Croucher used two spray cans at a time, mixing shades of orange and yellow, purple and pink and yellow and blue to create three planets. He then took a plastic bowl, turned it upside down and sprayed around the edges with black paint for the background.
Street artists often get a bad rap, Croucher said.
“It’s not like we’re out doing drugs or drinking alcohol. We’re just kids trying to have some artistic expression,” he said.
Kaitlyn Glass, 16, a Roseburg High junior, placed a finger over the nozzle of a can of red paint so that drops would fall onto her canvas. She painted an oversized tree.
“It turned out better than I hoped,” said Glass, a first-time spray-painter.
Next to her, Taylor Moore, 15, a Roseburg High sophomore, painted a large eye surrounded by vivid colors and white hand prints.
She said she found using spray paint challenging. She sprayed paint into her hand and then flicked the paint onto her canvas to add accent spatters.
“I’ve never played with spray paint before, she said, smiling.
Dakota Bryan, 17, a Roseburg High senior, painted a large mushroom emerging from several tall buildings. The buildings, he said, represented blades of grass, with clouds on the bottom of the canvas representing smoke.
‘It came out a lot better than I would have expected,” he said. “It really came together well.”
The paintings will be on display at Phoenix School this week. Organizers said they hope to be able to arrange for the paintings to be displayed around town.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.