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Take an artful stroll in Tigard, Oregon | Wanderlust


Last updated 4/27/2022 at 12:03pm

Photo courtesy of Debbie Stone

The "Musical Bench" in Tigard, Oregon

Oregon's Tualatin Valley is home to award-winning wineries and craft breweries, scenic wildlife preserves and parks, an array of outdoor recreation activities, world-class golf courses, and plenty of dining options.

Not to mention tax-free shopping.

The valley, which is located southwest of Portland, is also a mecca for artists, whose works can be seen throughout the area along a series of self-guided art walks.

On an overcast morning, I set out to do a tour of the City of Tigard's growing public art collection. The 1.25-mile walk through downtown takes you by murals, bronzes, stencils on pavement, blown glass and steel pieces, mosaics, and more. It's a potpourri of creativity that dresses up the area, especially on a grey day.

I was in treasure hunt mode, as I used the interactive map to look up, down and all around, while searching for each of the 17 works on display.

The walk starts at the Jim Griffith Memorial Skatepark, where you'll find "Dinosaur Sculpture," which is actually a skateable piece of concrete within the 15,000 square-foot facility. Several teens were giving it a workout when I was there.

A series of sidewalk stamps is next up on the route. Designed by schoolkids and created by volunteers, the stencils depict images of local threatened species that reside in a nearby creek.

One of my favorite pieces was "The Interactivators," an interactive sculptural table created by Frank Boyden and Brad Rude. It is comprised of moveable bronze heads that express a range of human emotions and traits. Set on the platform of a train station, they serve as a metaphor for the human experience.

Across the way is "Rivers," a panoramic mural showing people caring for the natural bounty within the Tualatin watershed. Further down is another mural at the Tigardville Station, which represents the beauty of the region.

Scattered throughout town, you'll find a series of decorative hanging glass baskets made by local entrepreneur Live, Laugh, Love, Art. Also, a personal favorite.

Jesse Swickard's "Butterfly Statue," was commissioned by Tigard Chiropractic, where it sits prominently in front of the business. As you might expect, it's all about the joy that comes through movement.

Two largescale, vivid murals, situated across one another under an overpass, are part of the Tigard Outdoor Museum project. The first, by Joshua Lawyer, showcases the Kalapuyan people, the valley's earliest inhabitants, and their animal spiritual guides. The second, which was created by MJ Lindo-Lawyer, is a reference to historic cultures, local wildlife and water. Painted in contrasting colors – warm and bright oranges versus cool blues – the murals'

hues are meant to represent summer and winter. These seasons were agriculturally significant to the Kalapuyan.

Water is also a main focal point in "Tualatin Lifeblood," by Jennifer Kuhns. Blue mosaic inlays run through stones in a rippling pattern suggest the importance of waterways to the area.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Stone

"A Walk Through Time" in Tigard, Oregon

Jeremy Nichols' "A Walk Through Time" is an eye-popping piece of aerosol-sprayed wall art. You can see images from the city's history, including native flora and fauna, as well as indigenous inhabitants.

It's hard to miss "Corylus," a marker for one end of Main Street. Commissioned by the City of Tigard, Brian Borello's giant, painted steel form was inspired by the agricultural roots of the region, particularly the hazelnut orchards that once graced the landscape.

The last piece on the route is "Musical Bench" by Jill Torberson. This popular and colorful cubed bench installation entices visitors to make music via several aluminum chimes that can be pushed to activate sound.

When you sit down, you can feel the vibrations of the soundwaves resonate through your body.

I spent a bit of time enjoying the experience before heading to Symposium Coffee to warm up with a chai tea.


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