- Public Art
- Arts Education
New mural brings Cuban flair to NE Glisan
Local artists Emily Beeks and Rachel Oleson recently completed a 50 x 35 foot mural on the east wall of the popular Cuban restaurant Pambiche at 2811 NE Glisan. The central Havana architecture and tropical color scheme of the building have long set it apart from its neighbors; now this vivid mural captures the attention of pedestrians and motorists passing by. The project was supported in part by RACC’s public art murals program.
“The Pambiche mural project is a splendid addition to the City’s collection of murals,” says Peggy Kendellen, public art manager at RACC. “It was an ambitious undertaking from beginning to end—from initial planning, selecting the artists, fine-tuning the design, and doing the actual painting.” Pambiche and The Apambichao Building are the project’s main sponsors, with additional funding provided by affiliated businesses and individuals.
Twice-life-size versions of famed musicians Benny Moré and Celia Cruz, rich flora and fauna, and a host of cultural and historic figures tempt mural viewers to forget they are 3,000 miles away from the island nation of Cuba. The mural takes viewers along a journey of discovery and piques public interest in Cuba’s fascinating and frequently misunderstood culture. Purposely left out are divisive images of revolution and conflict and in their stead symbols and emblems of unity for all Cuban people. The mural offers an opportunity for cultural diplomacy aimed at overcoming the political barriers that separate the two long-estranged neighbors.
Though the mural effortlessly blends with the building’s unique aesthetic, it was the product of a year’s work, including nine months of planning before the scaffolding even went up. The artists completed the project earlier this October and Pambiche plans to host an official celebration in the spring of 2012.
About the Artists
Rachel Oleson grew up in Massachusetts and earned a B.F.A. in sculpture and minor in art history from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. She represented artists from all over New England at several different galleries before uprooting to the West Coast. A seasonal job on Puget Sound led to a couple of years of travel, and wanderlust has never left her system. Although her training was highly focused on the human figure, place has special significance to her. She has lived and worked in many shockingly beautiful places, including the Adirondacks, the Florida Everglades, Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, the Big Island of Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, Glacier Park, and northern New Mexico. She is intrigued by the socially engaging nature of public art and enjoys listening to people’s stories. She loves the thrill of bringing histories to life through her art. www.pulsefineart.com
Emily Beeks is a self-taught artist. She was born in Idaho and has lived in Spain, the Czech Republic, Iowa and Oregon. She graduated from the University of Oregon where she studied Spanish, Philosophy and Sociology. Her work is largely inspired by the objects and oddities of days gone by, such as past scientific inventions, early exploration, folklore and cabinets of curiosity. She is also influenced by the changing nature of language and public opinion. One aspect of large-scale pieces that she truly enjoys is the sense it gives her of being able to stand inside her own work of art. Also working as a server at Pambiche, Beeks appreciates the opportunity to interact with customers about the mural.
John Conell-Maribona, Pambiche
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