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Photo Credit: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - In Woodstock, Ottos new mural includes a portrait (in the upper center) of Otto Eichentopf, the familys patriarch, who began the business in 1922 as Ottos Meat Market.The sun is down, and no one is around. That’s the time Michael Burge Smith prefers to paint murals – such as the nearly 1,000 square foot one he has painted for the Eichentopfs, the owners of Otto’s Sausage Kitchen and Deli.


The mural depicts a theme of Swiss and German Alps. “The owners, Jerry and Gretchen, love to ski,” remarks Smith. “They say it makes them happy to come back home after skiing, and look at the German Alps on this wall.”

Ideas for the mural were a collaboration between Smith and Gretchen. Smith’s connection with the Eichentopf family, and especially with Gretchen, began last fall, when he saw Otto’s expansive blank outside wall at S.E. 42nd and Woodstock Boulevard. He got excited about the wall, and decided to walk into the deli and present his portfolio.

“His portfolio was phenomenal,” affirms Gretchen. She says she wasn’t even looking for a muralist, so she is thankful he took the initiative.

Since then, Smith has painted all of the inside art at Otto’s, an inside mural for the Eichentopf’s daughter’s home, and now the large mural gracing the 64-foot-long wall of the nationally famous sausage kitchen.

At first Smith worked on Otto’s mural with his business partner, Kenny Spurlock; but in August Mike began painting the major portion of it by himself. Tragically, Spurlock died of a brain injury suffered during an accident in late August.

“Kenny and I did thousands of hours of art together. I had to take a week off after he passed away,” said Smith.

For two months, Smith painted the mural between the hours of 9 pm and 3 am. “I love the freedom of being able to pick my hours,” he says, commenting on his nocturnal schedule. “And I travel with my band all over the world, so I fit painting in when I have time.”

Smith has been painting murals for fifteen years. He began at age twenty-one after a childhood and youth of playing music – viola, cello and string bass, a parallel pursuit which he still follows.

Smith has painted numerous murals in Portland including ones on Kell’s, Hoda’s, Big Daddy’s BBQ, and Captain Ankeny’s Well. He has also taught mural painting to high school students in Oregon and Idaho. Now Otto’s is part of his portfolio.

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