Mariela Caldera

Mariela Caldera is presented with a check in front of artwork she designed for the new Funland Playground being built at Butte Park in Hermiston during a city council meeting on Monday, March 8, 2021.

When the new Funland playground at Butte Park in Hermiston is unveiled later this year, Mariela Caldera’s artwork will provide a backdrop.

Caldera created two pieces, both with cutouts for children to poke their faces through and take photos, for a Latino heritage section of the playground, which includes various sections designed to pay homage to Hermiston’s culture, economy and history. One cutout features a pair of colorfully dressed dancers, the other features a watermelon farmer driving a tractor.

“I’m really passionate about art and when I found out about this opportunity, I really wanted to take it, because I feel like I could not only represent my Hispanic culture but also that I’m from Hermiston, Oregon,” Caldera said.

The dancer design was chosen as the winner of the city’s Funland Playground Art Contest, and Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter liked it so much he asked Caldera to design a second piece. He said he is excited to have such “fantastic” artwork added to the playground and expected both pieces to become popular “selfie stations.”

“Truly Funland is going to become a destination playground and we just want to celebrate who we are culturally and artistically, and I think Mariela really hit the nail on the head,” he said.

Fetter said the city is shooting for Memorial Day weekend as the grand opening of the new playground.

Jose Garcia, chair of the city’s Hispanic Advisory Committee, has helped the parks department’s effort to include the Hispanic and Latino population into the playground designs. He called Caldera’s work amazing and said he was excited that it will be on display for “generations to come.”

“As you can see, the city of Hermiston has so much talent,” he said.

Caldera was presented with a $500 check and award certificate as the new artwork was unveiled.

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