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LifeArt Opens New Dedicated Gallery

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Medford nonprofit LifeArt has a brutally simple mission: use art to prevent youth suicide.

The organization, which partners with various schools and government agencies (such as Jackson County Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition), has been around since 2009. Phil Ortega, the founder of LifeArt, believes the kids will have better lives if they have better alternatives for self-expression.

“I always feel like what we are doing is worth the time and investment,” he says. “Our participants are doing better now than before and I think that the best reward in life is that which comes by true desire to help.”

There are currently more than 150 people involved in LifeArt.

And it didn’t take for numbers that large to outgrow the space that LifeArt inhabited in downtown Medford.

That’s why on June 19, LifeArt took over some new digs, opening its own 1,000 square foot gallery space at 312 Middleford Alley, right in the heart of downtown Medford and smack in the center of the the city’s growing gallery scene.

The new gallery gives the participants a chance to showcase their talents and express themselves publicly.

At the gallery’s grand opening, many LifeArters displayed their enthusiasm for their chosen work inside. Many more spilled into the street.

Adrian Chavez, a 16-year-old participant, was working on a graffiti mural with another student artist, Rachel Miller, outside the gallery during the opening.

The mural is painted on a portable canvas that can be hung in various outdoor or indoor locations.

Chavez told The Messenger that the teamwork and communication process is what he likes about working with other artists on this sort of group piece.

“Everyone has something different they bring to the painting,” he says.

Works created by the kids participating in LifeArt that are on display in the gallery span a wide variety of mediums. Many come from the world of street art and employ tools and materials like spray paint and stencils. Others use more conventional materials like acrylic paints.

In addition to displaying the works by participants, the gallery will include classes in photography, abstract art, poetry and graffiti taught by Caroline Wasick and Adrian Chavez.

The new LifeArt Gallery will be open every Friday and Saturday from Noon-5pm throughout the summer.

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