A team of local artists want to create a gold leaf mural of famed bicycle racing legend Major Taylor on the side of a building in North Portland. If funded, the mural would be placed on the north side of a building leased by United Bicycle Institute on N. Shaver, just east of its intersection with Williams Ave.
Major Taylor is a pioneering athlete and civil rights hero who overcame extreme racism to set numerous world records on the velodrome. In 1899, became the first African-American in any sport to become a world champion
adorns the building next to
where the Major Taylor mural would go.
The mural image has been designed by Janet Attard and installation of the mural will be done by Nancy Thorn and Vanessa Renwick. (You might recall that Renwick was one of the creators of the Zoobomb Pyle sculpture in downtown Portland.) The trio has applied for a grant through the Regional Arts and Culture Council’s public art mural program.
If funded, the mural would join an existing piece of public art on the building next to it (the painting “Ristretto Bound” by artist Amanda Houston).
According to Renwick, the project has received broad community support, including from the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Portland (and they will the artists and the public for a dedication ride during Pedalpalooza in June if the funding comes through). She says UBI has already committed to a donation to help fund the two lights that will illuminate the mural at night. The building’s owner, Jon Kellogg, has also expressed support for the project.
text that would accompany the mural.
Why use gold leaf? Renwick explains that, “The play of light reflecting off the gold leaf, both daylight and night illumination, as well as car and bike lights, will create movement to the piece.” It would also be accompanied by a plaque with text and a photo of Major Taylor (see tentative copy at right)
Here’s how the RACC described the project in their official Notice of Review of Public Art Mural Application:
“The proposed mural at 18 N Shaver on the United Bicycle Institute shop building, will present a 23k gold leaf image of Major Taylor who was the first African American cyclist to win several world championships and set world records. The reflective quality of the gold leaf design will change depending on light conditions, and proposes to bridge a gap between newcomers to the area and long term residents. The mural will include a small informative text display describing who Major Taylor was.”
You can learn more about the plans at a public meeting of the RACC’s Public Art Advisory Committee on April 24th (more details here).