September 26th, 2019

Look Closer: Experiencing Public Art in Downtown McMinnville

McMinnville in recent years has received national attention for our magical downtown district, and one of the reasons is because that’s where the art is.

No, we’re not talking just the galleries, though you will find those: John Stromme, the artist-owned Currents Gallery and Marilyn Affolter Fine Art. But look closer, and you’ll find paintings and sculpture everywhere: On walls, in alleys, on lawns and in local businesses.

Here’s a quick walking tour, starting with the McMinnville Public Library and heading east:

LIBRARY: Just explore, everywhere! From the bookshelf-esque walk in the breezeway and nearby sculptures to the upstairs reference area, where you’ll find a mural by Dayton’s Morelia Abrego. Also see Georgia Garber’s bronze Garden Rabbit on the grass on Adams by the crosswalk.

Georgia Garber

WILDWOOD CAFE: This cozy breakfast and lunch eatery on Baker Street has walls that are adorned with vintage signs, photos and various icons, from a Ringling’ Bros circus clown to Snow White and Santa Claus. Also, look up: The ceiling is spackled with old kitchen implements.  

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: No McMinnville bucket list would be complete without getting a selfie with the life-size bronze by Utah sculptor Gary Lee Price of one of America’s favorite Founding Fathers. Find him at the corner of Third and Davis. Go ahead, just one shot.

David Price

ALLEY ART: Just across the street, in the alley next to The Oak, check out Ashley Phillips’ mural of a woman with a parasol and bouquet. And if you’re cruising into downtown from the east end, look south as you hit Galloway: The rear of Gallery Theater has the comedy/drama masks gazing to the east, painted by local artist Shannon Ray.

Ashley Phillips

RED FOX BAKERY: Exactly one block to the east, you’ll find another favorite McMinnville breakfast and lunch spot. Throughout the year, new exhibits are displayed on the north wall, usually for sale.

MCMENAMINS: The artwork in McMenamins Hotels around the Pacific Northwest are legendary for the interior artwork, and Hotel Oregon is no different: The walls on each floor are adorned with paintings by the company’s artists. Look closely for a few UFOs.

ATTICUS HOTEL: McMinnville’s newest, coolest hotel has local artwork in every room, but even if you’re not staying, check out the lobby, which features a showcase of walnuts. Arranged by John Basile, it’s a replica of a display created by McMinnville’s Walnut Club for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. 

John Basile

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.