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Mural on S.E. Powell celebrates Mt. Hood natural areas

by: Rita A. Leonard Artist Robin Corbo shows initial design of “the BARK mural”.

A cool green and restful forest scene gradually has caught public attention at S.E. 46th and Powell Boulevard. Known as 'the BARK mural', the mural depicts images showing the beauty and fragility of the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Lead artist Robin Corbo commented to THE BEE, 'The project is fully funded by a generous grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. The design was created in conjunction with BARK (www.bark-out.org), an 'organizational resource for community action' to protect Mt Hood National Forest, and the surrounding federal lands.'

Corbo has been planning and designing the 2,000-square-foot mural since January. 'This site is ideal - it's along the highway going straight out to Mt. Hood National Forest,' she smiled. "This privately-owned commercial building adjacent to the Firestone store has been vacant for years, and affords a sweeping palette to feature the flora and fauna of this remarkable natural area. We're including scenes from alpine, sub-alpine, ponderosa, riverine, and meadowland environments.'

Corbo has an undergraduate degree in Art Therapy, and is finishing her graduate degree in Contemporary Art Practices at PSU.

'I've done three other major murals in Portland,' she revealed, 'But this is my first mural in Southeast Portland. Along with a paid crew of six, and dozens of volunteers, we hope to finalize the mural along with an informational plaque in time for an October grand opening celebration.

'We've had a great response from the community for this powerful message about caring for the Earth's wild areas,' she continued. 'Bikers, pedestrians, and passing vehicles regularly compliment us as they pass. About a third of people in this region get their drinking water from Mt. Hood, so it's important to maintain a clean, well-regulated environment there. We're also including mural images of some rare and extinct species - such as wolves, cougars, and wolverines - which we hope will return to the area."

As for 'BARK', its mission is to transform Mt. Hood National Forest into a place where natural processes prevail, wildlife thrives, and local communities have an investment in its restoration and preservation. They offer a free monthly forest hike to view Cascade ecosystems and the threats they face.

The Firestone store has allowed the mural committee to store their scaffolding, equipment, and paint, and to use their facilities.

'This is one of the first murals done through a new permit process set up by the City of Portland,' explained Corbo. 'We're painting scenes integrating natural plant and animal species in the Mt. Hood National Forest, along with people participating in a BARK-sponsored free monthly hike to the area (call 503/331-0374 for information).

'We've also received professional input on the accurate portrayal of native plants and animals, to allow the mural to be a learning experience as well as a decorative one.

'I'm incredibly proud and grateful to be working on this project,' said Corbo. 'There has been a lot of love expressed for the project from the community. BARK is staffed mostly by volunteers, and they're doing great things in helping protect the Mt. Hood Forest environs. This mural will help give them more visibility, and offer a better understanding of what they're trying to do.'