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New mural brings love of nature to downtown Beaverton

The community mural painting Saturday on First Street in downtown Beaverton was planned and publicized in advance, but some folks just happened upon the event, forgot about where they were going, picked up a brush and got down to business.

Among them were Tualatin resident Tamara Mayes and her 4-year-old daughter, Akylah.

The pair had stopped by the Beaverton Farmers Market after the little girl's dance class and were on their way to the car. The colors coming together on the wall behind Pedro's Upholstery on First Street caught Akylah's eye, and their agenda quickly changed.

'My daughter admires art,' Mayes explained. 'The little girl has a knack. She loves to draw in color and paint in colors.'

Akylah was one of about 70 people of all ages and backgrounds who dropped by on a surprisingly sultry June afternoon to partake in 'The School of Outdoor Learning' mural project.

Hillsdale resident Angelina Marino worked with Janie Scott, director of the Beaverton Arts Commission, and Bridget Coffey, owner of Bohemian Treasures and Art Gallery, to conceive the project, which Marino said would likely be completed by mid-summer. She will work on finishing touches with her artist-sculptor husband, Joel Heidel, in the coming weeks.

The project is partially funded through a $10,000 matching grant from the Beaverton Arts Commission. A $500 challenge grant from the Wikelund Foundation and about $400 donated through a recent mailing provided further boosts toward the $1,300 needed to complete the mural.

Marino, who has worked on several public art projects, including the new Plaza Del Sol in Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood, said the project is a great way for community members to engage with the places where they live, work and shop.

'I wanted an opportunity to participate and let people know this is here,' she said of the urban alleyway nook. 'These projects go a long way in the community. We've had all sorts of people here.'

Marino, who modestly admitted drawing the mural's elaborate outline 'from nothing,' said she drew inspiration from Luther Burbank, a noted early 20th century American horticulturalist, philosopher and author. She was particularly inspired by a passage from his book, 'The Human Planet:'

'Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, waterlilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay-fields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.'

'I just fell in love with that quote,' she said. 'It reminded me of our childhoods, many decades ago, when you'd leave the house and come back at sunset. I believe (today's kids) are missing a lot of that upbringing.'

The mural begins with a large face of a woman, who Marino envisioned as the 'rememberer, with the idea of remembering the past.

'There's a lot of meanings woven into that piece,' she said.

Charles Erickson, 72, a Northeast Portland resident and artist, joined in on the mural to help out his old friends.

'I think these colors they have are magnificent, extremely vivid,' Erickson said.

'Isn't it wonderful this community participates in these times of poverty and disasters. It's like the WPA projects in the '30s,' he added, referring to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, a program designed to spur employment for public projects during the Great Depression.

Erickson's wife, Barbara, said she also came along to support Marino's vision.

'I've always admired Angelina,' she said. 'We wanted to be part of this, and watch it come to life. I grew up in the country, so this (theme) really speaks to my heart.'

Marissa Patterson, 17, an Aloha resident and fledgling Portland Community College student, said she read about the mural paint ahead of time and knew she had to be involved.

'I just enjoy painting,' she said. 'I look for different ways to express myself - and getting out and helping the community is another way to do it.'

For information about donating to the community mural project, email Angelina Marino at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or visit the Beaverton Arts Commission's website at www.beavertonoregon.gov/secure/ArtsCommission/donate.aspx .