Today on display in the Oregon District you will see nine paintings done by local artists. These trees of life represent the nine lives lost in the horrific shooting on April 4th, 2019 that happened on Fifth Street.
Their was a committee formed to help create a memorial to remember those who loft their lives. Committee member Mark DaGrossa, who actually created the Dayton Shines logo, says, “we talked about many ideas, but a tree seemed to emerge as a symbol we could all agree upon. So I reached out to local artist Julie Riley to see if she’d be interested.” Julie shared that the idea was to create trees so people could write notes of remembrance and tack them on the trees.
Riley then recruited Richard Lundin, Property Manager of Front Street for help with Mark’s idea and he came up with the idea of 9 artists each painting one tree. Digital Fringe printed a plain tree on 46”x46” boards and each artist painted their tree as a memorial to the victims. Julie says, “it was really cool because none of us saw what the other artists painted until the installation was up this morning. Richard then built the frames for the installation you see in the OD and then mounted the paintings. It’s already been visited a lot this morning and people are placing notes on the trees to the victims. It was very emotional for each of us who painted the trees, thinking of those who lost their life and those who were injured. The trees will be there for a month and then moved to Front Street’s sculpture park.”
Visitors are welcome to visit the installment today and pin a note, a memory, or message of hope to the installment. The Crisis Response team will be on site until 6PM to offer materials and support for those in need.
The nine artists that created these trees are: Julie Riley, Mikee Huber, Jo Ann Vincent, Hyacinth Paul, Lori Daugherty, Rusty Harden, Samantha Mang, Bonnie Kuntz and Sunny Simms.
Julie Riley’s Tree:
“Although it was a huge honor to paint the tree, it was a somber and emotional time. The nine doves and nine leaves represent the 9 who lost their lives, it broke my heart each time I painted a dove and especially when I wrote their name by each dove. I prayed for each family as I was writing the victim’s name. The yellow hearts at the bottom of the tree represent those who were injured and that was difficult too. I did not personally know anyone who lost their life or those injured but because of the news and social media, I was able to put a face to many of the victims. If you look close at the painting, you can see where my tears disturbed some of the paint.”
Mikee Huber’s Tree:
” It was emotional and overwhelming at times, so I’d like to share with you what this tree of life means to me. I chose nine colors for the leaves, one color per deceased. The bright colors represent the light they had in them and the joy they brought to others. Some colors have interference (color shifting) paint, and some have glitter paint but its subtle.I choose a galvanized steel appearance for the tree to represent the strength and resilience of Dayton, and to the victims who held on as long as they could.”
“The entire tree and leaves have a layer of Phosphorescent paint to represent even though they are gone, they are still with us. The Phosphorescent paint is also for Dayton Shines. The blue heart is love from Dayton to everyone who was there that night, and to those who lost a loved one. The initials represent they are forever with Dayton, we can never forget them, and we never will.”
Rusty Harden’s Tree:
“Its been an intense process and the finished piece with the other 8 belong to the community.”
Hyacinth Paul’s Tree:
Lori Daugherty’s tree:
My heart still hurts💔. Aug 4th, 2019 was a day that will always be a part of me.
A day I would have never imagined in my worst of nightmares.
A day that Dayton cried together.
A day that Dayton became stronger together.
Nine wonderful lives were lost that morning, thirty-nine more were injured, and countless lives were forever changed.
I am honored to have played a tiny part in creating the one year memorial for the anniversary of the Oregon District Shooting.