Airport mural honors Rose Festival queen, Pacific NW icons

Airport mural honors Rose Festival queen, Pacific NW icons

New 150-foot artwork depicts Mya Brazile, Ed Edmo, Norman Sylvester at Portland International Airport.

You can always come home again, even if you’re flying far, far away.

That might be the takeaway for travellers at Portland International Airport, especially if they glimpse a new 150-foot mural going up in the north pedestrian tunnel to arrival parking.

It’s artwork intended to capture a sense of homecoming and inclusion, based on a survey of eight cultural organizations about their perceptions of the Pacific Northwest.

“A lot of my process is engaging in community and making sure I represent people accurately,” said Alex Chiu, one of two brushes behind the display. “It’s really interesting to see how people are responding to it.”

The painting honors several local icons — including reigning Rose Festival Queen Mya Brazile, Shoshone-Bannock poet and storyteller Ed Edmo and famed blues musician Norman Sylvester. Another scene, based on a historical photo, shows children in Vanport before the city was destroyed by flooding.

Port of Portland staff commissioned the mural from the Portland Street Art Alliance, and Chiu hopes it will be around for a long time. With plans to demolish Concourse A coming to a head in November, there may be more opportunities for art at the airport soon. A permanent exhibit by artist Jacob Hashimoto is set to open in Concourse E in 2020.

COURTESY PHOTO: ALEX CHIU - Famed local bluesman Norman Sylvester is featured in a new mural at PDX in the north pedestrian tunnel. For this piece, Chiu focused on the portraits, while painter Jeremy Nichols managed the design, color scheme and environmental elements. While all credit is due to the artists, the Tribune contributed a news photograph, which was used as a reference for the original portrait of Brazile.

The co-creators were given just a month and a half to complete the installation, and should wrap it up by Nov. 1. “I think I’m going to be painting down to the wire,” said Chiu, a Portland-based artist for the last eight years.

A PDX spokeswoman said the airport has a $28,000 contract with Portland Street Art Alliance.

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