A mural soars at Wy’east

June 29, 2005

The eagle has landed at Wy’east Middle School.

This bird seems to soar with its wings spanning 16 feet, but its aerie will be on the east side of the school gymnasium.

“I think it turned out well,” a modest Chad Mayo said.

He is the artist who, in the first three weeks of June, turned a blank wall into an image of a giant bird soaring before a finely-detailed Mt. Hood and over a dark green line of trees.

“It came out great,” said painter Tracy Wickwire, who donated many hours to the background and surrounding colors, along with painter Dennis Keiffer.

Wy’east principal Ed Drew said the mural “gives a really welcoming feel to the front of our school.”

Mayo sees the mural as a true team effort.

“I like the idea of community art, when people can drive by and see it,” Mayo said. “It’s not in a gallery or some place where not everyone can see it. It’s here for everybody.”

To pay for the $5,000 mural project, students held fundraisers during 2004-05 and collected community donations.

“A lot of kids are excited about it. You hear them talking about it,” said Wickwire, adding that his nephew, Nick, an eighth-grader at Wy’east, “is pretty proud of it.”

“It’s something we can give to the kids. It’s worth every penny,” Wickwire said.

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Mayo, who also has a nephew at Wy’east, Matthew Ramsey, studied at Seattle Art Institute, and has shown his work in galleries but the mural project was his largest work.

“I love to work with this much paint. It’s so much more exciting to me. I’ve never painted an eagle before,” said Mayo, whose wife, Amira Malik, is an art teacher at Cascade Locks School.

Mayo worked from a small photograph, adding detail from his own imagination.

“When you’re working with something three inches wide you have to elaborate. You kind of use it as a template,” he said.

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