Jeremy Mangan mural installed under trestle at Freighthouse Square
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Dec. 28, 2017
Crane installing one of a dozen mural panels, photo courtesy Jeremy Mangan
A large mural measuring 7½ by 48 feet by Tacoma Foundation of Art Award winner Jeremy Mangan was installed beneath the railroad trestle near Freighthouse Square last week and revealed in an installation celebration at the Amtrak Cascades Station on December 15.
Titled "The Wood Carving Beach," the mural depicts a beach where wood carvings have piled up along with driftwood. Mangan says the carvings could have washed up on the beach, or they could have been carved on site, or both.
Mangan made a 12-inch by 77-inch painting in oil on panel. Then, Winsor Fireform in Tumwater scanned the painting, converted the colors to multichannel/duotone, enlarged it, and printed the image onto 12 steel panels, each 7½-feet tall by 4-feet wide, using porcelain enamel pigments. These panels were then fired in kilns and sealed to create the finished mural. The artist says the scanned and enlarged image accurately reproduces the painting down to the detail of a single brush hair embedded in the paint.
Mangan is a well-known Tacoma artist. In addition to the Foundation of Art Award, he has been the recipient of a 2015 Tacoma Artists Initiative program grant and a 2013 Artist Trust fellowship. He was a Neddy Award finalist, and he won the People's Choice Award at the Tacoma Art Museum’s 10th Northwest Biennial.
Mangan says, “I wanted the mural to relate to the neighborhood and the area. I wasn’t looking for overt connections, but rather more subtle overlaps in form and content. Wood and lumber became a central theme, and I took my primary cues from the clapboard construction of Freighthouse square, the wooden dome of the Tacoma Dome, the history of logging and lumber transport in the area, the timbers of the old railroad trestle itself, Thea-Foss waterway, the beaches and driftwood that surround us, and the history of wood carving and shaping in the Dome District and the region — indigenous peoples to present.
“Given the mural’s location on a retaining wall underneath the trestle, I wanted to create space, light, distance. I wanted to ‘cut a window.’ I thought about people driving and walking by, so I aimed to create an image that would work well from a distance and up close. And given the public nature of the piece, I wanted it to be inviting, bright and whimsical (but still with the dose of mystery and strangeness which is typical of my work). I wanted it to interest both adults and children. Hopefully it’s an enjoyable image that invites the viewer to both visually explore and posit narratives. Why are all these wood carvings on this beach? Where did they come from? How long have they been there? Why would someone go to the trouble to create them? I hope the mural stirs the imagination and rewards multiple viewings.”
The Wood Carving Beach by Jeremy Mangan, underneath the railway trestle at the intersection of E 26th and E G Streets in Tacoma's Dome District.