'Wings' show highlights how insects, animals, humans fly

You might say the idea for the latest Gresham Art Committee exhibit took flight on Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

That’s the day the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane, launching a revolution in travel that has taken humanity all over the globe, and off it as well into outer space.

“Before that, men and women had flown in hot-air balloons, but the Wright brothers were the first to achieve powered flight, which relied on wings,” says Michael R. Anderson, lead curator of “Wings,” which is on display at the Gresham Visual Arts Gallery in the City Council chambers, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, through Jan. 31.

The show examines winged flight by insects, animals and people, Anderson says, and it includes such art forms as wall hangings, ceramics, drawings, paintings, photography and sculptures.

Featured artist

Michael Abando’s graphite pencil drawing of “Ford Tri-Motor” earned the artist the show’s Poster Award.

“I have been drawing since a very young age, but around the age of 10, people started to notice my drawings,” the 33-year-old says, adding he moved here from the Philippines when he was 19 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008.

After arriving in the States, Abando took a job at Evergreen International Aviation in McMinnville and in the evening went to night school, eventually earning a degree in architecture from Portland State University.

“I have worked in many capacities over the years at Evergreen, starting as a ground maintenance person, then as a shipping/mail clerk,” he says. “I worked in the museum, helping to archive, helping at the gift store, at admissions and also volunteering to dust aircraft on weekends.”

His persistence and dedication earned him an internship as a graphic designer in Evergreen’s corporate communications department. He also shared a house in McMinnville provided by Evergreen with three other individuals, one of whom was Jack Real, an aviation pioneer and a close confidant to famous aviator, billionaire and movie tycoon Howard Hughes. The late billionaire’s Spruce Goose, the largest aircraft ever built, is a famous attraction at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

“Jack was very friendly and very smart, and he knew a lot about aviation,” he says of Real, who died in 2005. “His stories about aviation and his life dealing with Howard helped inspire my art.”

Over the past several years, Abando has helped build design models for projects such as the Evergreen IMAX (now known as the Evergreen Theatre) and the Evergreen Space Museum Titan II Missile Pit. In 2010, Abando embarked on his biggest art undertaking yet, illustrating the entire museum aircraft collection, and these pencil drawings are sold exclusively in the museum store.

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