New murals coming to the Tigard Outdoor Museum at the end of May
A new addition will soon be added to brighten Tigard's new Outdoor Museum.
The museum is a ¾-mile linear exhibition following the Tigard Heritage Trail, a former railroad bed that connects Main Street to employment and housing areas. The gallery is supported in part by a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant and funding from Washington County Visitors Association.
City Hall commissioned muralists MJ Lindo-Lawyer and Joshua Lawyer to create two murals for the trail and museum — part of a larger collection of public artwork. Both murals contain references to historic cultures, local wildlife and water.
"We do appreciate being chosen for this job," said Lindo-Lawyer, a professional muralist with an extensive portfolio of large-scale works between California and Mexico.
The couple created their compositions after a period of intensive research into local histories, with help from the Five Oaks Museum — formerly the Washington County Museum — and the Tualatin Historical Society.
"We want to honor the history and take our best foot forward as far as representing what we think would add our talent to the story of Tigard," said Joshua Lawyer.
At first, the artists thought about painting a train scene because of the walls' proximity to the train tracks, but then they learned about the Kalapuyan people and everything changed.
"They're the ones that kind of just sparked the most interest as far as telling a story through the work," Lindo-Lawyer said. "They're what we ended up focusing on after, but there was a lot of history to choose from."
The Lawyers took months to learn about the Kalapuyan people — a Kalapuya group, the Atfalati, were the Tualatin Valley's earliest inhabitants — and what they valued most.
The designs showcase large animals as spiritual guides. One leads a young woman on her fishing voyage — an activity that had deep cultural significance to the Atfalati, and which remains very popular in the Tualatin Valley to this day.
"We also wanted to make sure that the central figure to the image felt like a modern person," Joshua Lawyer explained. "Almost understanding that there's a tradition to this, but making it also feel like you're connected to it as a viewer as well."
The two mirroring murals also show a contrast in color. One is lit up in mainly orange hues, while the other is muted in blue colors.
When asked about the choice in color, Lindo-Lawyer said, "Well, that ties into the Kalapuyan people living their lives based off seasons. … They would base their seasons on their crop, and that's what we wanted to depict. So, a cooler cold kind of scene, and then a warmer, brighter scene, based off of the two extremes."
Lindo-Lawyer added that the choice in colors can also be eye-catching to those that walk by. Their hope is to have the colors radiating off the walls.
"Anytime you're around a body of water around sunset or whatever, there's just that like burst of colored because it's reflected from the water," said Joshua Lawyer, referencing the water included in the designs. "We just wanted to have kind of intense bursts of color, because the cold scene is so muted that having also those two contrasting is interesting as well."
It took a 10-hour drive from Santa Rosa, California, for the two to finally be able to start painting the murals. Lindo-Lawyer noted that they have already generated some buzz in the community by simply power-washing the walls.
"I saw a little boy with his dad … and you could see how excited this little boy was getting as (they) were biking," she recalled. "And that is what excites me. It's seeing the kids being super-excited, because that's what I felt when I was young, and to be able to keep it going and do that for somebody else is exactly what it's about for me."
Lawyer hopes the mural can make art more accessible to the community — specifically, getting people to talk about the work in front of them, he said.
"There's something great about public art that just kind of allows people to experience it, which we've found to be great, because a lot of people won't make it to a gallery show will (then) post a mural you did on social media and be inspired by it," he added. "Hopefully we can add a little inspiration to Tigard."
As for when the murals will be completed, the artists hope to have them done by the end of the month.
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