Oregon Coast Children’s Theatre repairs mural, offers free art kits

“Ambassadors of Joy” was rededicated in March and now sits next to the Yaquina Bay Café in the new Samaritan hospital in Newport. (Courtesy photo)

Over the course of four months, Oregon Coast Children’s Theatre (OCCT) worked to restore a piece of public art: “Ambassadors of Joy,” a ceramic mosaic mural first created in 2018 for Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital by a mix of volunteers, from doctors and nurses to patients and local artists.

When first created, the mural was a community collaboration of hundreds of volunteers. This time around, the original design and restoration was completed by Lawrence Adrian, the art director of OCCT, along with help from Dina Kirk, the education director of the charity.

The restoration project was part of the “Community Arts Initiatives” of the Toledo-based OCCT.

The mural was damaged during the construction of the new hospital, resulting in a need to take it off of the wall, then reassemble and repair it. The Samaritan Communities Health District Foundation, under the direction of Ursula Marinelli, supported the project along with the donors and foundations who support OCCT. The mural was quietly rededicated on March 17, and the work was completed before any distancing restrictions were set in place.

Adrian expressed thanks to the many hospital staff who came by during the last few weeks of the work to both gave their approval and share memories of their time working on the mural. Adrian said he would also like to thank Gary Brown and Jess Thomas of the engineering department of Samaritan Hospital, who helped with the demolition and reconstruction of the mural under the direction of Jon Connor, the director of plant services.

THE NEXT PROJECT

This year, the educational art charity celebrates its 30th anniversary in Oregon, calling it the “Year of the Family.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most bookings for the organization have been canceled — though there are still a few events planned for late summer when organizers hope things will look up.

“Our choice of a focus on the family this year allows us to switch programs from theatre with large audiences to fine art programs with more focus on small groups and individual students when travel restrictions can be lifted,” Adrian said. “In the meantime, we have been going through our reserve supplies and purchasing new ones to make up ‘Youth Art Kits’ and are seeking help from local stores and individual patrons to hand out these supplies through school-based backpack programs and local food banks.”

Each kit is sterilized and cleaned and is going out to families in need, who may not be able to afford activity kits for children. OCCT has already begun distributing kits in eastern Lincoln County. Adrian encouraged parents to supply their children with creative activities rather than only screen time.

“We will be asking our youth to face many challenges to both our country and our planet in the years to come,” Adrian said. “We will need their creative and imaginative minds to help build their future and the future of their children. In the coming months and years, our schools, libraries, cultural centers, local artists and business — including hospitals and health centers — will all need support and collaboration from all of us. All of this help starts with our youth and our families and ends with all of us working together.”

To support OCCT or share images of student art created from the kits, email [email protected] or send mail to OCCT Youth Art Programs P.O. Box 538 in Toledo.

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