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Paint the Town

Published: January 21, 2020

It’s said that one discovers the heartbeat of a community through its culture and public art. The community of Eugene, Oregon is so committed to the visual arts that it established the Percent for Art Ordinance in 1981, placing Eugene on the leading edge of a national public art movement. This ordinance dedicates budget to public art and states that it is an appropriate function of government to foster arts and the development of artists. For almost 40 years, Eugene has been integrating art into a variety of public settings—enriching the cultural landscape.

20x21EUG Mural Project

Art brings color and life to urban landscapes and building murals, quite literally, do just that. The 20x21EUG Mural Project is an initiative by the City of Eugene Cultural Services’ Public Art Program to create 20 or more outdoor murals before the World Athletics Championships bring 50,000 visitors to the city over the course of two weeks in the summer of 2021. Renowned artists from all over the world have come to leave their own individual marks on the walls of Eugene. To date, 23 of these unique stories have been captured in paint for all to see and admire.

Tours of the murals are popular with planners and can be a fun way for attendees to get to know the city. The murals are painted on the walls of a theater, brewery, coffee shop, grocery store, church, ciderhouse and more. Printed maps are available at many businesses around town.

For more information, or to see pictures of the murals, visit: https://www.20x21eug.com/murals/.

Mural by Bayne Gardner taken by Melanie Griffin

Urban Canvas

The murals of the 20x21 project are not the only painted walls to discover around Eugene. Urban Canvas, another program by the City of Eugene Cultural Services, adds to the vibrant and dynamic public art scene by providing opportunities for local artists to create murals with local businesses. There’s a submission process for artists and they are notified when their artistic talents match the aesthetic wishes of a project coordinator/wall owner.

One Eugene-based artist, Bayne Gardner, has painted over forty indoor and outdoor murals in the Eugene area ranging from massive building facades to the walls of local schools. Other completed projects include several painted murals on building walls around town, a retaining wall on a private residence, a 14-person tour bicycle and a half-dozen traffic signal boxes in the trendy Whiteaker neighborhood.

For more information, or to see pictures from the Urban Canvas program, visit: https://www.eugene-or.gov/3732/Urban-Canvas-Program

Art The Box by Philis McLennan | Courtesy of Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Art the Box

In addition to the painted traffic signal boxes in the Whiteaker area, attendees are likely to notice the many beautifully painted boxes throughout downtown. The boxes were painted by local artists through a former city program called Art the Box. The City of Eugene Public Art Committee aimed to engage visual artists in an effort to inundate downtown Eugene with compelling 2D work on selected traffic control boxes and bring a smile to people’s faces.

These murals interact with the public more significantly than a painting tucked away in a library and reflect the current art scene. Plus, the murals serve a dual purpose of enlivening a bland surface and deterring graffiti taggers. Each is covered with a layer of graffiti prevention coating. If a box is tagged, the graffiti can be wiped off without damaging the artwork.

Small Market, Big on Culture

Beyond the natural beauty that makes Oregon a top destination for meeting planners and attendees alike, the painted urban landscape of Eugene offers all the amenities and vibrant culture of a larger city—often at a fraction of the cost. The city is also rich in intellectual capital, committed to sustainability and bustling with new development. Add an abundance of venue options, farm-to-table restaurants, world-class wineries, award-winning breweries and unique after-hours activities and you begin to understand that this destination may be a small market, but it’s big on culture and an obvious choice.

From regional association conferences to international citywides, Eugene can deliver success and the experienced staff at Eugene, Cascades & Coast can help your group paint the town!

Author: Philis McLennan

With over thirty years of experience and a true passion for marketing, Philis brings a unique perspective and enthusiasm to her role as Director, Conventions & Sports Marketing at Travel Lane County. Philis considers herself an avid sports fan and enjoys hiking and playing frisbee with her dogs.