Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Murals in Oregon


Throughout our trip we were inspired to see murals in communities large and small. Some are designed in a collaborative manner others by a lead artists. Oregon is home to numerous murals. Every city small and large that we stopped in had a mural of some sort. Most of our time was spent in Eugene visiting family. We had a chance to see lots of works and go on the First Friday Art Walk visiting galleries, hearing live music and meeting artists.

Murals are everywhere in Eugene. They are woven into the cultural tapestry of the city. Eugene is a unique place thriving with life and creativity. In addition to the natural beauty and intelligent urban planning there is a strong local economy. The weekly Saturday market and regular farmers markets provide a great window into the social life of the community.

One of the muralists we saw in Eugene was Kari Johnston who has painted a number of works in the area. She painted one of the most loved murals in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

Kari Johnson mural in the Whiteaker neighborhood

Kari gave us a tour of the in-town land trust where she and several dozen others live. She designed the commons house that sits next to one of the gardens where a parking lot once stood. Now you can enjoy a maze of gardens and fruit trees. Seeing this really helped us get a feeling for the spirit of her murals.

You can find a list of Eugene murals here but you might need the help of a local in planning your mural tour of Eugene. A good place to start is by visiting the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA).


We had the delight of spending a day touring Portland, OR. Portland is home to many beautiful community murals. It was synchronicity that helped us find a mural in progress by artist Robin Corbo at the Community Cycling Center .

She told about another mural she had just finished entitled Women Making History in Portland. The mural depicts women who have, or are making history in Portland. A ton of people were involved in this mural. If you click on the image below you should be able to make out the text.

Women Making History in Portland
2335 N. Clark St.
Artists: Robin Corbo with assistance from artists Mark Meltzer, Sherri Shaw, Emily Lux and Jason Greene

I like the design and richness of these murals, they tell a story, make a statement and are visually fun to spend some time with. Other muralists in Portland include Joe Cotter and Joanne Oleksiak. They are involved in the Portland Mural Defense group . This group has been active in an epic struggle to keep the mural movement alive in Portland.

I would suggest that you visit the Regional Arts and Culture Council mural gallery to plan your mural tour.

1 comment:

pippijewelry said...

Thanks for this great article and pictures of Eugene murals! I lived in Eugene for 16 years (before recently moving to Idaho)and remember seeing many of the murals you showed being painted. My daughter and I used to sit on summer evenings, watching Kari paint the mural on 4th and Monroe. She also painted the deer mural on the pillar of the overpass between washington and Jefferson streets.
There are a few wonderful ones that you missed, however. On 15th and Willamette St. there is a beautiful mural of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, painted by Jim Evangalista. The mural by Dan Hitchcock which is painted on the back side of the Down To Earth warehouse near 3rd and Lincoln streets can best be viewed from the corner of 4th and Charnelton St. The trees in his mural blend into those of Skinner Butte behind. Another set of murals that are definitely worth seeing are those in the downtown post office between 5th and 6th streets on Willamette Street. They were painted by the Portland artist Carl Morris (1911-93), who executed them under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project (1935-43), which was established under FDR's New Deal. Really striking works. I would be happy to share links to the photos I have taken of these murals, and answer what questions I can about others you posted.

Best regards,
~Pippi Konstanski