Peace Wall nearly complete

The Peace Wall will finally be completed this month adding a beautiful wave of color to the front of the Ashland Public Library.

The dedication ceremony to celebrate the completion of the wall is planned for International Peace Day Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in front of the soon-to-be finished wall on Siskiyou Boulevard.

"It has been a labor of love for three years," said Tia Hatch, one of many volunteers who have worked on the project from the beginning.

The 54-foot wall is in a wave pattern and represents the three years of volunteer work by the Ashland community. It is a collection of tiles surrounded by colorful mosaic that are replicas of pictures of original canvas panels.

"It's going to be a really great dedication. We are very excited," said local Lithia Artisan Jean Bakewell who is credited with starting the Peace Fence in 2007. Her project was a response to the tragedy of losing two of her family members.

"I wanted to remember them with something a little different," Bakewell said.

What started out as 67 canvas panels with peaceful expressions, blossomed into more than 200 art pieces.

"It grew—we had no idea of the response we would get. It became an absolute joy," she said.

The wall represents community members from all walks of life from an infant's footprints to a panel contributed by an 86-year-old volunteer artist. Bakewell pointed out that all schools in Ashland have contributed panels to the wall.

"The community made this all happen. There's hundreds of people who have been involved," she said.

Last September organizers of the wall held a different dedication ceremony to show the community that the group of volunteers was committed to finishing the project.

While the final plan for the dedication is still being organized the main theme is a focus on interfaith blessings and recognition of all the work that has been donated by the community. Representatives from many faiths will speak including Rabbi David Zaslow, Lama Barbara Casey and Reverend Pamela Munson-Nelson. Mayor Jon Stromberg will give an opening introduction and City Councilor Greg Lemhouse will accept a check on behalf of the city from the volunteers to cover the costs of the wall.

The road to completing the wall has not been easy. The original project, the Peace Fence, was vandalized in 2008. Instead of being discouraged Bakewell and a group of volunteers decided that they would make the fence more permanent by using pictures of the canvases that had been on the fence and making them into the tiles.

"We weren't going to be put down by the thing," Bakewell said.

Local businesses and organization rallied behind the project, Illahe Studios & Gallery provided the design and expertise in mosaics, Lithia Artisan's Market artists donated art to the project, D.A. Bolt Construction donated construction work to install the wall, Ashland Fabrication provided the steel frame that the mosaic is housed in, Ashland Public Library has provided a location for the wall and Peace House took in donations for the project.

Paying for the $25,000 project took time. In the last two years volunteers have held fundraisers and gathered donations.

"It's been all little gifts—$5, $10," Hatch said.

Earlier this year an anonymous donor offered to match any donation given after July 1 allowing the project to move forward in time for International Peace Day.

To see pictures and information on the progress of the Peace Fence and Peace Wall go to

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