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VIZ CITY BLOG: Audio, photos, transcripts & more by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.Airs every other Wednesday during Morning Edition and Here & Now.

Ila Rose, Muralist for 20 x 21Project

Ila Rose in her home studio in Eugene, Oregon
Sandy Brown Jensen

Show: Viz City

Subject: Ila Rose, Muralist

Date of Interview: Aug. 16, 2017


Date of Broadcast: Wed. Aug. 23, 2017

Script: Sandy Brown Jensen

Sound: Terry Way

RE:“20 x 21 Eugene Mural Project”

Have you seen the dynamic murals popping up all over Eugene? They are part of the 20x21 Mural Project, an initiative to create 20 or more world-class outdoor murals in Eugene between now and the 2021 IAAF World Championships. Muralists are coming from all over the world. When Eugenean Ila Rose first heard of the project, she immediately reacted, "When I did hear of the project, I thought instantly you know , “Where’s the local involvement? As a local artist, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could have that same opportunity?’”

Ila Rose's mural covers two sides of a walled tower.
Credit Sandy Brown Jensen

Most of us know Ila Rose’s Oregon Country Fair posters from the past three years, but did you know she painted the mural on the side of the Chao Pra Ya building? The mural at Third and Lincoln is only her second big mural, though, and it presented some challenges, "It takes a lot of stress [laughs] No, really for me it requires a lot of planning. Especially for me because I haven’t done a lot of murals. It felt really important to me to have a good grasp on my design, so I could estimate … the amount of paint to cover that big of a wall. And in order to know how much paint I needed, I needed to know what colors I’d need, so I needed to have a better idea of my design….I drew it out, and I painted it out…”

Ila’s mural at Third and Lincoln covers two right angle walls. A child is holding out a flower to a huge Earth Goddess with giant garter snakes for her hair, "I’m going to make my design based on that concept--the idea of a child approaching an obstacle with compassion and curiosity and my obstacle is this big double-headed spirit creature/woman/goddess thing. My friends are calling it “Rock Goddess.” But it is sort of loosely based on the myth of Medusa. You see just this one child offering it a flower, and she’s elevated, and looking it in the eye, and it just has this feel of courage and innocence [slight laugh]."

Pano view of Ila Rose's eclectic studio.
Credit Sandy Brown Jensen
A pano view of this eclectic artist's personal studio space.

When asked about the snakes on the mural, Ila said her father loved snakes and often brought them home. Although many people associate snakes with evil, Ila Rose says she has a very different relationship with them. "In my opinion, snakes more represent our connection to the earth and our intuition, and the right hemisphere of the brain--creativity...femininity...so that’s how I see snakes. In a way, facing the snake, or the concept of Medusa is turning this darkness into recognizing it as something other than evil."

The two walls of the Ila Rose mural are best viewed in the morning light at Third and Lincoln. While you’re in the neighborhood, jog over to Fourth and Lawrence on the Vistra Framing building behind REI to see the bright red, black and gold dragons of Hua Tunan from China.

Viz City is co-produced by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.


Terry Way has been hosting Viz City, KLCC's visual arts review program, since 2000. Terry hosts the show with Sandy Brown Jensen.
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