Klamath Falls artist Chris Young studied a photograph of white pelicans as he leaned in, intently adding contour to a mural underway at Klamath Union High School.
For the past few months, Young has been bringing juxtaposed images to life in the piece on the wall above what’s known to students as the senior bench, outside the media center of the renovated KU academics building.
KU has chronicled the piece in progress on its Facebook page. The 58-year-old Young said he’s received positive feedback from students so far on the art piece.
Young, who retired from teaching at Roosevelt Elementary a couple years ago, is spending his days doing even more of the things that he loves; in particular, painting as well as teaching art and design at Klamath Community College.
He hopes to finish up the mural this week.
“Just really happy to be here and doing this,” he said, adding that it’s been a team effort when it comes to design.
Inspiration and design
He’s worked closely with KU alums to design the painting, which in three parts, showcases the beauty of Mt. McLoughlin; Mt. Shasta; and a vintage photograph of the school, in a juxtaposed design that encapsulates the essence of KU with the strokes of a brush.
“We started talking last fall about this and it kind of took a while to figure out exactly what we wanted to do,” Young said.
Young enlisted the help of a former Roosevelt Elementary student and KU graduate who now lives in Portland where she is an accomplished graphic designer.
“I contacted her and said, ‘Can you help me figure this out?’” Young said. “We had kind of an idea for trees and a school.
“She came up with the trees and the Pelicans flying in to the picture,” Young added. “That was all her ... She was so willing to help.”
The right shot
He also connected with KU graduate Cyndi Kallstrom, who lives in the Pacific Terrace neighborhood near KU. She took a photograph that inspired the third part of the mural.
The photograph showcases Mt. Shasta, but looks out over the Klamath Falls landscape, including Lake Ewauna, KU and Modoc Field, as well as the surrounding areas.
Kallstrom is a 1976 KU graduate and her sons are 1996 and 2000 KU grads.
She said she wouldn’t technically call herself a photographer, but Kallstrom’s photographs say otherwise.
Her photograph of the view of KU and the surrounding area is located inside of Biagio’s Bar and Grill, and inspired a prominent part of the mural.
“This is like one of the most exciting things that’s happened to me, especially with my photography,” Kallstrom said.
“I’m getting old, there’s not a lot of things that thrill me other than my grandkids,” she added, with a laugh. “This really was an honor. I’m very proud of it.”
For Kallstrom, Pel pride runs deep, as it does for many in the Klamath Falls community. That pride stems from living closely connected in a small town, and for her, that includes living close to KU, hers and her children’s alma mater.
“I take pictures all over Klamath Falls – Klamath Falls really is beautiful,” she said. “Sometimes I think when you live here, you forget that, how pretty it is. My son who lives in Portland reminds me … everybody who moves away kind of still loves it, you know, even though it’s kind of a funky little town, people still love it.”