I don’t know about you but I don’t get out to the Parkrose High School north parking lot too often, but a recent visit was well worth the effort.

Larry Kangas and a large crew, including Joe Cotter and Joanne Oleksiak, have just finished (in early August) an elaborate history of horses – at least twenty of them, each in historical context and style, and many of well known artworks with horses. The painting – or paintings – run eight foot stripe around three walls of a city block sized building – at least 200 feet long. Impressive – perhaps Oregon’s largest painting? Yes.

And a celebration of size-for-the-sake-of-size for Joe Cotter and other mural artists, winners with the City of Portland of Clear Channel v Portland. See prior Portland Public Art posts More City Mural Suit Background and Ruling in Clear Channel Case Goes To Portland.

Kangas’ work is sponsored by both the school and RACC which spent $15,000 or almost half their miserably small budget for public murals on this project.

The location is odd – twenty feet above eye level, wrapping three sides of a building, no single viewpoint, running from a gated plaza area through the main parking lot and around to a side of the building which faces bland suburbia. I used binoculars and found nuances in photographs I missed with my eyes.

If this is an educational tool for Parkrose history and art students, and I’ll naively assume a curriculum is being developed, but the location is very peculiar and probably more difficult than helpful. Sketching? The height, distance and poor perspective defeat this. History? Horses are interesting but Jared Diamond’s theory of first world development in Guns, Germs and Steel is more accurate and comprehensive. But it’s not an educational tool – just promotion. The Parkrose football team are the Broncos.

“We tried to find imagery that will satisfy people from all the different cultures at the school so that everybody could have a piece of this,” Kangas said in the Oregonian. Ahh. Something for everyone – isn’t that the motto of public art.

From the Oregonian – Diversity at play in mural, July 27, 2007.

And see the world premiere of Alice in Wonderland as adapted by Adrian Mitchell by the Parkrose Thespians Troupe #1783 on November 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th and 19th. Call 503-408-2718 for details.