Embracing Storytelling Visions: Indigenous Artistry Shines in Collaborative Journey with Artists Repertory Theatre
PORTLAND, OREGON – October 27, 2023 Artists Repertory Theatre, in partnership with the Public Art Committee of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), have selected Blaine Fontana and Toma Villa for the mural project, entitled Sky Fox, for the newly renovated ART building on SW Morrison Street. The mural, set to begin October 30th, is inspired by Toma Villa’s timeless origin story of the stars and moon that will be painted on both the SW 15th Avenue and continue on the SW 16th Avenue side of the Artists Repertory Building currently under construction.
The inspiration for the mural comes from the storytelling tradition of Toma Villa, a member of the Confederated Yakama Nation. Sky Fox is told through the view of an innocent young girl trying to capture Sky Fox’s tail. The story evolves into a metaphor for acquiring wisdom, responsibility, and a deeper understanding of immortality.
Artist Toma Villa expressed, “This mural is a profound expression of authentic Indigenous artistry, a vessel for sacred storytelling, and an invitation for all to contemplate the profound essence of theater, community, storytelling, and the wonder of creation, inviting engagement on spiritual, intellectual, formal, and environmental planes.” Villa continues, “On one side, viewers will be entranced by the majestic presence of Sky Fox and a resplendent night sky, while on the other, the Daughter playfully attempts to ensnare Sky Fox with Father’s Dip Net.”
Fontana and Villa are both well respected muralists, deeply rooted in the vibrant cultural tapestry of Portland. They have been friends for over 25 years, both holding deep reverence and wisdom of their respective heritages. Between the two, they share over 40 years of experience, having worked alongside each other on multiple mural projects. However, this endeavor will be their first truly collaborative creation, fusing visions, artistic styles, processes, and the diverse richness of mixed media.
This project is also profoundly meaningful for Blaine Fontana, “Nearly two years ago, I was entrusted with the momentous mural project on ART’s newly unveiled back wall, following an ambitious redesign of the block that the Theatre has lovingly safeguarded for generations. Sponsored by the Wood Partners Group, the existing 200-foot-wide by 40-foot-high mural graces the city block in the newly completed Alta ART Tower plaza, nestled between the two buildings. This mural, narratively designed to honor the theatre, garnered the approval of their board. The new murals for ART will lovingly embrace this existing piece, complimenting it with a vivid, engaging, and enchanting narrative for the community, creating a heartfelt connection for all,” shared Fontana.
Work on the murals is set to begin at the end of October and is expected to take 4-6 weeks to complete. To follow along on the progress and other updates about the renovations at Artists Repertory Theatre, visit our website www.artistsrep.org.