MILWAUKIE, Ore. — Artist Joseph Riso spent his Wednesday in downtown Milwaukie, brushing away at an epic mural.
“I did Mount Hood and I did the local Willamette River with the island over here, Elk Rock Island, and just the local trees and birds,” he said.
In about three weeks’ time, Riso has used 10 gallons of paint on three walls of Chan’s Steakery on Main Street. He hopes to complete the fourth and final wall by late August.
“It’s basically a highlight of a thriving environment just to show the beauty of the environment that’s thriving,” said Riso.
The concept is “Birds, Bees, Mushrooms and Trees,” an idea he proposed to the Milwaukie Arts Committee a year ago. They approved his plans, which pay tribute to the native plants and wildlife of our area. It’s part of a larger effort by the arts committee to spruce up the entire city, matching businesses owners who would want murals on their buildings and artists who are willing to paint them.
“Unfortunately, we’re in COVID-style and it’s a little weird, but I love doing murals. I love painting making art, and especially for the public it’s a great feeling,” Riso said.
Alicia Hamilton is a member of the arts committee, she said this is money well-spent.
“The ballpark number for this mural is $12,000, which to have three sides of a building painted is an amazing blessing for our community,” she said. “I see beauty, nature, and a place where I’d like to be all the time.”
Riso has about half a wall to go to complete the project. He was touching up spots and adding smaller details under the hot afternoon sun. His hope is that the finished product will give the community something to enjoy.
“I hope they get a positive feeling from it, and also just reflect on the environment a little bit,” Riso said.
Hamilton said the whole thing is about building community.
“Lord knows we really need community right now. And anything we can do that brings any kind of sunshine and happiness and community to our town of Milwaukie, we will do it,” she said. “We’re all just looking to connect in any way, shape, or form, and art can do that and so I say get out there and create art in whatever form it looks like, because it just makes the world a better place.”