The State of Public Art in Oregon City

By Cathy Rowe, TRAG Co-Vice-President

Cathy Rowe will be giving a presentation about the current state of Oregon City’s Public Art Collection to the Oregon City Arts Commission on Thursday, February 15 at the Oregon City City Hall at 7 pm. Cathy will be discussing the murals, sculptures, and other public art items at the meeting.

This is a public meeting that is open to everyone. Public comments should be submitted before the start of the meeting.

If you would like to attend via Zoom please contact Ann Griffin ( for zoom link information.

The meeting will also be broadcast live on the City’s You Tube Channel (

Friends on a Shelf Mural Ribbon Cutting

By Lynda Orzen, OCFOTA Coordinator

The community mural Friends on a Shelf is now official! We had the grand ribbon cutting ceremony on July 23. Thank you to our Chamber of Commerce for letting us borrow their scissors! There was a small group of our friends that attended the ceremony. Lynda said a few words about how the mural idea came about and Lucas talked about his process. This was his first mural on the outside of a building which presented quite a few challenges including him being afraid of heights. Lucas conquered all his fears and finished the mural between rain storms!

The height of the ceremony was when Quinn read her poem “Friends on a Shelf”. She did get a little help from her Dada she confessed! It’s hard to believe the poem was written by a 6-year-old. More like 6 years going on 15! It was such a pleasure getting to know Lucas and his wonderful family during the mural installation! We really enjoyed seeing his artwork in the bookstore for several months.

In the coming months, we are going to be photographing the mural for a closer look at the book titles. We will make it available so our Friends can get a close up of their books way up on the shelves

Now on to the next project! Would you like to see the mural on a bookbag or maybe a mug?

Friends on a Shelf
By Quinn Amara Nickerson and Dada

Fairies and magic and books about space
Are found on the shelves of your favorite bookcase.

My world is expanding, the more that I Learn,

My eyes become wide with every page
That I turn.

Enchanted forests and bubbling brooks,
Adventure awaits inside of your books.

At the end of the day, when you want
To unwind,

Go to your shelf and a book you will find,
To inspire and spark new ideas that take seed.

Creative energy flowing, after every
Book that you read.

There’s no better friends to find for yourself,
Then the books you can pull down from a shelf.

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.

Confederated Tribal Mural Starts June 1st. Come Party with Us on June 11th!

By Trieste Andrews

A mural depicting the tribal story of how Coyote and Meadowlark created the Falls in Oregon City began Wednesday June 1st . The new mural will be located at White Rabbit Black Ink on 503 Main Street on the corner of 99 and Main. The 75’ x 19’ mural will welcome visitors into Oregon City, and we are honored that it will be created by tribal artist, Brian Krehbiel, representing the Confederated Tribes – an authentic part of Oregon City’s history. This will be the first of its kind in Oregon City.

On June 11th White Rabbit will be hosting a block party with a portion of the proceeds going to The Living Room for LGBTQ Youth in Oregon City. TRAG and our mural Artist Brian Krehbiel have been invited to participate in this fun and meaningful event. The block party is on Saturday June 11th and is from 5-8pm at 503 Main Street. Come and see how the mural is progressing and meet the Artist. It is sure to be a delightful evening! We are working on creating mural stickers that we can give out to everyone!

I would also like to give a huge shout out to some of our community partners who were an integral part in bringing this project to life. As much as we hoped our grant would cover the cost, we knew our artist Brian was settling for less than what a 75’ mural normally costs. So we took to the streets and asked every vendor what they could contribute. The local Oregon City Sherwin Williams store is supplying 100% of the paint and sealer, Cyrus from Party Events gave us our safety cones and signs, and Pioneer Rental is giving us a substantial discount on the scissor lift needed. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a giving and supportive community. I know all my future paint will be purchased from Sherwin Williams on Beavercreek Road in Oregon City – Hope you do the same!

Trolley Car Mural – Fully Restored!

And the mural restoration of the Trolley car at Don Pepe’s Restaurant at 705 Main Street is finished! Through rain, wind, sun and heat, Cathy Rowe, lead muralist and TRAG member, toiled on from September 13th to October 11th and the final results are breathtaking. What was once a dilapidated cracked and indistinguishable mural originated in 1992, is now a vibrant display of colors that beg to be seen as people go about their business on Oregon City’s busy Main Street.

The restoration of the Trolley car on Main Street was the kick off event for murals once again in Oregon City. The project was financed by TRAG through Oregon City’s Metro Enhancement grant. The outstanding funding will be used for a future brand new mural at a location to be announced towards the spring/summer of 2022. Look for murals coming to Oregon City with Friends of the Library, Live Edge Salon, and White Rabbit Black Ink – to name a few. Art and culture is alive and well in Oregon City! Thank you Cathy and Oregon City for ushering us in to this momentous time.

Restoration of the Trolley Car Mural at 705 Main Street Has Begun!

On September 20th, TRAG’s own Cathy Rowe began work on the Trolley Car Restoration. The Mural is located at 705 Main Street under Don Pepe’s restaurant. A kick of event took place on September 25th for the public. Tables and chairs were set up across the street at Edward Jones and the Bridgewater Beer and Wine Supply. Don Pepe’s offered complimentary chips and salsa as the public had a chance to take a seat and enjoy the progress. Lots of smiles and conversations as we all watched Cathy and enjoyed the views!

More news on new potential murals will be announced in the coming months.

To see a newsclip that aired on Friday September 24th about the mural restoration and featured Cathy Rowe the muralist, and Trieste Andrews president of TRAG, go to

Who said watching paint dry was boring!

Join Oregon City on Saturday, September 25 from 11 am till 4 pm.

Murals are once again allowed in Oregon City. The first project to take place is the restoration of the historic mural “First Trolley” at 705 Main Street above the Don Pepe’s restaurant. The project will take place from September 20th to October 2nd.

On Saturday September 25th there will be a viewing event from 11-4. Tables and chairs will be set up for viewing while you munch on chips and salsa from Don Pepe’s restaurant. Please feel free to order a yummy Mexican dinner to go after the project.

The mural of the “First Trolley” was created by artist Larry Kangas in 1992. The building was originally constructed in 1908 and has held the OK Barber Shop and later a confectionery store. It is one of the few remaining wood frame buildings on Main Street.

The mural is a depiction of one of the first trolleys on Oregon City’s Main Street. The face of the conductor in the front of the trolley is that of businessman Urb Arbour, then owner of the building.

Murals Are Back!

With the mural code now near completion, plans for murals are already underway. A restoration of the Trolley above Don Pepe’s restaurant at 705 Main Street will begin on September 20th. TRAG’s own Cathy Rowe is the Lead Artist and Project Manager. Spotters are needed to direct traffic on the sidewalk as Cathy will be using a scissorlift. If you would like to participate in this exciting fun event, contact

A new mural funded by TRAG through the Metro Enhancement grant is planned for next year at White Rabbit Black Ink Coffee Shop on the corner of 99 and Main Street. Lead Artist for this project will be an artist from the Confederated Tribes with help from TRAG Artists. Plans for a theme depicting waterfalls and rivers are currently in discussion stage.

Lynda Orzen, a TRAG member and volunteer for the Friends of the Library, will be hiring TRAG artist Lucas Nickerson to create a mural on the Friends of the Library Building. The building is located 814 7th Street.

Keep your eye out for more updates as murals start to adorn Oregon City once again.

Trieste Andrews

Murals are back in Oregon City!

You can now apply for a permit to paint a mural on your building!We’re very excited that the City Commission has seen how important murals are to the vibrancy and activity in downtown spaces. This week they approved the NEW mural code! You can start applying for those permits now! 

It’s taken several years to see this happen and DOCA is very grateful to the City staff and Commission and especially the Three Rivers Artist Guild for helping us make this a possibility. If you are interested in painting a mural on your building and would like to start the process, we’d be happy to help. 

More information and the application information is coming shortly, but we wanted to share with you right away so you can start getting your creativity working!

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