TRAG nominated for outstanding partnership with the Downtown Oregon City Association

By Trieste Andrews,

The Board of Directors for the Downtown Oregon City Association has nominated TRAG for outstanding partnership. A draft of the nomination written by Liz Hannum the Director of DOCA is attached. The nomination is for 2021-22.  It focuses on our work in reinstituting the mural code and the Restoration mural of the Trolley car and the new mural at White Rabbit.


By Liz Hannum the Director of DOCA

Brief Project Description 

DOCA has spent 3 years working with the Three Rivers Artist Guild to help bring vibrancy to downtown Oregon City through the creation of the mural code, restoration of a historic mural, and a brand new mural.

Describe the person, project, or activity you are nominating. Refer to the category description for additional questions to include.

Three Rivers Artist Guild is an inclusive organization providing mutual support, encouragement, services, and education for the enrichment of artists and their communities. 

This joint project advocated for a mural code at the City, found funding for a mural restoration depicting a historic scene from when the trolley used to run through Oregon City, and a new mural created by an indigenous artist at the gateway entrance to downtown. It also faces the Falls site now owned by the Grand Ronde Tribe so the mural tells the story of the beginning of the falls from the Grand Ronde perspective and bridges the divide between old Main Street and what will be a restored Main Street once the Falls site is redeveloped.

Describe the impact the person, project, or activity has had on improving your downtown or neighborhood commercial district and the businesses located there. If a project or activity, are there secondary or spin off effects? For instance, did the rehab of a particular building spur additional investment downtown or have an effect on a nearby business?

In early 2019, a representative from TRAG and DOCA and the City of Oregon City sat down to talk about how we could change the city code to allow murals back in Oregon City. This ended up as a multi year effort to build support among the business and property owners, the artists in the community, the general public, and more to petition the City to institute a mural code. After several iterations and lots of discussion over years, the City was poised to change the code. The original code included an Arts Commission as the permitting body that had dissolved more than 15 years earlier. TRAG and DOCA came together to get the word out to individuals to help rebuild that commission. So not only did we restore the mural code together and support each other to find funding to restore an historic mural and create a new one, but we also helped to bring the Arts Commission back at the City level to start working on more ways to bring art to our community. 

As mentioned in the description, the connection that the indigenous mural has made with the Falls site is going to make downtown more welcoming to all.

Please tell us why this person, project, or activity should be considered for an Excellence on Main award. What lessons were learned and what can be taken away from your experience?

These two murals and the partnership that they created were years in the making. Perseverance and dogged determination, especially on the part of TRAG who collected 70% of the 150 letters of support for the mural code restoration, are the only way to get things done. This idea was fairly well received and it still took years to get it through the commission and included the creation of a new iteration of a city arts commission that had been dormant for years. The final viewing for the indigenous mural was last weekend and the amount of foot traffic that this brought to the business was absolutely amazing. 

We also helped each other out constantly. The best example of this was when the TRAG volunteer scheduled to power wash the wall so the mural could get started a few days later was taken away with a family issue, DOCA stepped in and 4 of our volunteers offered to do it so that the schedule didn’t need to be pushed back.

“Friends on a Shelf” Mural at the Friends of the OC Library Used Bookstore Finished

By Lucas Nickerson, TRAG’s very own muralist

Friends of Oregon City Library Used Book Store mural - bookshelves  with a girl sitting on one of the shelves reading a book and some animals framing the door of the bookstore

 “A muralist? Me? Not really.”, I told Lynda when she approached me with the idea of creating a piece to adorn the entrance of her bookstore. I’ve been wrong too often. After the dust has settled, and the varnish dried, I can finally be at ease with some of my insecurities at painting something so daunting. Would you believe that I thought it was possible, at the start, that I was afraid of heights? I opted to use a ladder because I wasn’t sure about the weather holding back the rain long enough for a few days of work at a time, so I’d have to be a guerrilla painter. When I first climbed to the top to test it out, a sudden fear gripped me. I can’t possibly do the whole thing up here on a twiny ladder! Was my thought, as I stood there, looking down. Wrong again! 

Doubt and insecurities are the plague of most artists, so overcoming my own ‘mind traps’ is something I’m learning to better cope with. No doubt, we’ve all overcome some personal barriers to get the job done. 

In the end, I am happy, humbled, and proud of the work I’ve done. I’m honored to have helped create some beauty for the community I was raised in. Creating a work that I hope my family is proud of is one of the sparks that drive me as an artist.  I hope I have also created a design that both captures the spirit of the responses from the community, and also one that showed a personal connection to the world of books. 

I hope the design of the mural gives the sense that not only is literature elevating to our understanding of the world and ourselves, but that it is a friendly, natural environment; full of wonderful friends of the wild. In an excerpt from a press release, I wrote: 

“The last few years have brought us more isolation than many of us are comfortable with, especially our children. While they may not be a true substitution for constant contact with friends and other people in our lives, a little gentle escapism offered by a book carries us smoothly many miles over any rough road. I am thankful every day that our little one knows how to read and is able to open her world a bit more with the help of her friends on a shelf.  

And so our title was ‘Friends on a Shelf’.  

To help fund the mural, we took sponsorship from the community. Each sponsor could pay to have a book spine personalized within reason. This was the most challenging aspect of the mural. Placing over 50 sponsors on randomly sized and various colors of books was no easy task. I knew that not every person would be thrilled to have their personalized book at the top of the shelf where it is harder to read. In the end, though, I believe the look created in the amount of time (and between rainy days) gives the sense of an old library with wonderful antique books- books with intriguing titles like, ‘Bob, I Want That’ and ‘The History of Love’. 

The work is a figurative mountain to me. A mountain I’ve climbed by going up and down a 20 foot ladder for days on end. A marathon climb with a deadline. I’ve finally reached the summit and the view’s not too bad!

I hope all who get a chance to drive or walk bye will take a look and maybe even enjoy it. I know at least 53 folks who will be squinting to read the titles, scanning for their own sponsorship on my shelf of dusty old books.

Call for Artists: Lincoln High School Mural Opportunity | Portland, Oregon

Submissions Due: 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

On behalf of Portland Public Schools (PPS), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams who are either based in Oregon & Southwest Washington or attended Lincoln High School to submit their qualifications to be considered for a site-specific mural at the newly rebuilt Lincoln High School (Lincoln) in Portland, Oregon. One artist/artist team will be selected to create a mural design to be painted on the exterior west-facing wall. The budget to create a mural design is $25,000. 

Located in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, Lincoln is Oregon’s first and oldest high school. The Lincoln campus is on an 11 acre super block and will consist of a 6-story classroom tower and theatre and athletic facilities. Lincoln is scheduled to open for classes in Fall 2022 and the entire project is slated for completion in 2023. The selected artist/artist team will create a mural design that will be painted on the school’s west wall, facing SW Main St and SW 18th Ave. Additionally, community engagement will be a central component of the design process. 

Read the full details about this call and the school’s rebuild, artist eligibility, and application materials.

Who can apply?

This opportunity is open to artist/artist teams either based in Oregon/Southwest Washington or who have attended Lincoln High School. Applicants who have an interest and/or experience in community engagement processes that informs their art practice are strongly encouraged to apply.

PPS and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/teams representing communities of color are encouraged to apply. Strong consideration will be given to artists who have experience working with youth and residents from historically underrepresented communities including communities of color, immigrant, and refugee communities to develop their artwork, including working in a historical context.

Apply online in the RACC Opportunity Portal(For first-time users of the portal, view a brief video learning how to register here.)

Learn more by watching the previously recorded info sessions:

Follow Regional Arts & Culture Council on Facebook or @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.

We’re Here to Help!

Questions?

Contact project manager Salvador Mayoral IV with questions or to set up a time for a phone call: smayoral@racc.org