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Caldera Students Bring Music Legends to Life with the Blues Portrait Project

It all started when local artist and blues musician Joe McMurrian, who has been a part of the Portland music scene for years, wanted something special to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s beloved Waterfront Blues Festival. When he saw the Caldera Self Portrait Project from 2011 (inspired by the Shepard Fairey Obama Poster), he knew what the festival needed: Artwork by the talented Caldera teens.

Work by KitKat (left) and Cheezy (right) are part of the Caldera Blues Portrait Project

Students came together first in Portland and then in Central Oregon to create their posters. Joined by Caldera staffer, Teafly Peterson, McMurrian and Peterson covered the walls with photos of blues legends from Bessie Smith to Blind Boy Fuller. One by one students chose the artist that spoke to them the most. After students explained what drew them to their artist, McMurrian told them more about the lives of these legends.


Creating the Art:
The Caldera Blues Project is part of Caldera’s Spring Intensives, and the goal was to both learn about legendary blues artists and to make art inspired by their stories. After having some time to digest the amazing and sometimes difficult lives of these musicians, the students went to work. First they transferred their musicians’ images to the paper using a graphite transfer technique. Then students filled in the pencil lines using paint, pencils, markers,¬† and collage. Four hours later, students showed their work to classmates.


Waterfront Blues Festival
Central Oregon students will have the opportunity to go through the same the process of creating Blues portraits at the end of April. The original works from both groups will be framed and sold at two separate events including an exhibition in June at the WK Caldera Gallery and at a secured exhibition space at this years Waterfront Blues Festival. Two posters will be selected and made into main Waterfront Blues Festival banners. The framed originals will be available for purchase for $250 and proceeds will go back to both the student artists who created the work and Caldera.

Make sure to check out May’s newsletter to see the art.

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