Many years ago, a Port Orford artist was inspired to cover a blank surface with a mural. That became the inspiration for other local artists, all wanting to beautify their little town with artwork. Today, there is hardly any wall that is unadorned. Being a town by the sea, many of the murals are of sea life: whales, fishes, crabs even a mermaid and Neptune make an appearance. Then, there are the scenes specific to the walls they sit upon, like at the Library which is the first mural you will see upon arriving in town (from the north). A wonderful depiction of fairy tales and children’s books, this whimsical panorama on the Library’s north enclosure will delight any child in the car. Featuring castles and pirate ships, fairies and ballerinas, ninjas and even a couple of swashbuckling mice, your child can perhaps name the various books these images are drawn from.
Next, on the front of the school is a scene that captures this bountiful area, the aspects of life that make this town so special: the forest, the ocean, the ranches and the farms.
Perhaps the largest and the most iconic of all is The Whales. That’s what I call it. Three graceful gray whales plying the deep by an artist whose work can be found in other coastal towns. Then, there are the elephants, two massive creatures sharing a blue wall. As you might expect, the Community Coop is adorned with food. The front features carrots and beets being seized by an octopus and the side (or the back during construction) is a cornucopia of mouth-watering fruits, vegetables and fish, a picture of healthiness.
Across the street at the bend in the road is the newest mural, beautiful sunflowers adorning a wooden fence at the most colorful house in town, the gallery at Kat’s Korner (formally Not Just Art). These giant flowers are bound to bring some sunshine into your life, regardless of the weather. A little further on the 101, on the left is another recent addition to the town. Graceful, flying sandhill cranes on a brilliant blue background beautifying the new health clinic and pharmacy.
Continuing on, on the right, at the Triangle are more beautiful, colorful flowers on a fence, then the faded image of the Wesco fishing vessel on the side of a derelict building. Make the next right, then a left, and there at the OSU Field Station, at the side of Port Orford Sustainable Seafood is a magnificent, indigenous cabezon fish with exaggerated coloring. Make a u-turn and go back to the Crazy Norwegian. On the east side of the building is a wonderful fairy-tale scene, filled with elves, Viking ships and magical creatures, spilling around the corner to the back of the building.
From there it is on to the Battle Rock Wayside, a right turn off the 101. At the Visitor Center are two historical murals interpreting the natural landscape and heritage of this town. One shows the aerial view from the Dock, to Cape Blanco, instilling a sense of the landscape and its history, including the Native American tribes and shipwrecks.
Want to see even more? Two are off the beaten path. At the corner of Jackson and 10th street, at the back of the house is a new 2020 mural, an original depiction of Port Orford including flowers, dragonflies and a flag (you can only see this mural from the street, as this building is a residence). And if the Port has reopened, or you are heading to the restaurant on the dock, there are a few murals to captivate your senses, like whales in the bay, a redheaded mermaid and Neptune wielding his trident.
Whether you are a repeat visitor or a first-timer, you will be astounded. While some of these murals were painted years ago, the beautification of this town continues year after year. Three new murals have appeared in 2020 and there are others planned soon. Creativity abounds in this town, so keep your eyes open as you drive thru, something new is bound to pop up at any time.