December 5th, 2023 (Portland, OR) – A new expansive mural evoking everything Portland now shines bright along Ankeny at the corner of SW 4th Ave. and SW Ankeny St., on the exterior of the U.S. Bancorp Tower (a.k.a. “Big Pink”) parking garage in downtown Portland. The 120’ long mural, titled Radiance, is the vision of the muralist dream team KSRA and They Drift. The artist duo recently relocated to Portland from Seattle and were excited for the chance to paint this statement piece in their new hometown.
Drawing inspiration from local commercial and public art, Radiance features neon signs from quintessential neighborhood locales interspersed with iconic Portland statuary. The neon signs were painted by artist KSRA, who along with being a talented muralist, creates miniature neon signs in a mixed media diorama-style both as a gallery artist, and in her day job at Laika Studios. The statuary was masterfully recreated by muralist and abstract portrait artist, They Drift a.k.a. Carlos Aguilar.
“When Unico Properties and PSAA approached us to represent Portland’s historical neon and sculpture landmarks at Big Pink, we were thrilled. It’s been an honor to celebrate the craftsmanship of the artists that created these works.” – Muralists, KSRA & They Drift
“Since the pandemic, this area of downtown has really suffered. Over the last year we, alongside our neighbors, collaborated with the City of Portland’s Public Environmental Management Office to make Ankeny Triangle a beautiful, walkable, must-see destination for locals and visitors alike. The wall, along the parking garage across from U.S. Bancorp Tower serves as a perfect canvas for this quintessentially Portland and vibrant, cultural expression of joy,” said Keren Eichen, Unico Properties Director of Real Estate Services.
The first piece of neon in Radiance honors Portland’s 3rd oldest continuously operated bar, the nearby watering hole, Kelly’s Olympian (426 SW Washington St.), which has been serving Portlander’s since 1902. Overlapping the Kelly’s Olympian sign is the head of one of the dragon statues that grace the Chinatown Gateway, entrance to Old Town/Chinatown, located just across Burnside nearby. Behind the dragon statue is the now retired Made in Oregon neon sign that graced the west end of the Burnside Bridge from 1997 to 2010.
The next piece of public art featured is the Skidmore Fountain, a National Historic Landmark located two blocks to the south of Big Pink. The Skidmore Fountain was designed by sculptor Olin Levi Warner and dedicated in 1888. Wrapping around the massive wall is the iconic neon sign from another Big Pink neighbor, the Portland Outdoor Store (304 SW 3rd Ave.), which recently celebrated its 100th year in business in downtown Portland. The Portland Outdoor Store’s bold “Portland” neon awning has welcomed visitors since the 1940s.
On the right side of the mural, the new rose neon from neighboring Waterfront Park shines bright; a beacon of the Rose City. Anchoring the right section of the mural is Raymond Kaskey’s instantly recognizable Portlandia statue (circa 1985). Behind Portlandia, the legendary Voodoo Donuts sign glows brightly. Voodoo’s iconic neon sign can be seen across the street from the new mural.
The final neon sign featured in the mural is the beloved Palms Motor Hotel sign (3801 N Interstate Ave.), a building which is now being used as a homeless shelter. At a towering 50’ high, the Palms Motor Hotel is arguably Portland’s most recognizable neon sign masterpieces, with its tropical flare, monkeys, coconuts, and flashy mid-century feel. Strict sign codes enforced by the city, high maintenance costs and a steady decline in ‘mom and pop’ shops have sadly drastically reduced the number of neon signs over the past 50 years, but somehow, this iconic neon from the 1950s has survived intact, for now.
Radiance was sponsored and supported by U.S. Bancorp Tower owner, Unico Properties LLC.
Portland Street Art Alliance (PSAA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides access to resources, networking, and professional development opportunities for street artists. PSAA has facilitated commissioned work resulting in over $1,000,000 paid to working artists and managed over 300 major private and publicly-funded art projects, collaborating with hundreds of artists in the region. PSAA serves hundreds of community members each year through educational programming, tours, and community events. PSAA is actively transforming the public art landscape by developing more inclusive place-based programs which aim to increase access to art for everyone in the city.
ABOUT UNICO PROPERTIES
Unico Properties LLC, a subsidiary of Unico Investment Group LLC, is a commercial real estate investor, developer, and full-service operator focused on office and multifamily assets in emerging markets throughout the United States. Founded in 1953, Unico has been transforming the built environment by creating innovative, people-focused building experiences through a cadre of subsidiary companies that deliver boutique expertise and institutional execution for its own accounts and select third-party clients. The private equity real estate investment firm currently owns and operates 18 million square feet of commercial properties across the United States and continues to grow.