Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gottschalks Department Store Murals - Now & Then

The California based department store, Gottschalks opened a new 55,000 square foot store in Bend, Oregon last week. I sold limited rights* to 2 of my paintings, Spanish Sonata and Blue Bird Hacienda from my Spanish Rose Series to Gottschalks so that they could have them turned into murals for the atrium. Not only am I honored to have my art chosen, I am amused by the irony of making a mural 20 plus years later for the same location. Here's what happened.

During the late 1980's I was the lead (and only) outdoor advertising billboard painter for the entire Central Oregon region beginning south at the (then) tiny town of La Pine, Oregon and north into the town of Madras, Oregon, on the edge of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. I worked for Carlson Sign in Bend, Oregon and hand painted billboards on metal sections or paper. This was right before computer printers took over the market. Now it is rare to see a hand painted billboard.

Jake's Truck Stop and Diner was a landmark on South Highway 97 in Bend, Oregon, from the 1970's through most of the 1990's. Truck drivers could dial a real 5 pound phone from their table, enabling them to eat and relax while checking on business or calling loved ones. Meals were gourmand piles of carbs with sides of extra gravy and cute girls pumped the gas. The showers were clean and the lot was big enough to host a small village of overnight sleepers.

I painted this 24' long by 11' high sign for Jake's Truck Stop & Diner (circa 1989) on metal sections using alkyd bulletin colors. I used rollers and brushes for most of the under painting on the billboard. I painted the cool looking airbrush effects with a quart sized air gun and 24" wide rolls of masking paper. I remember the satisfaction of painting the "sparkles" on the "chrome" Jakes's name as the finishing touch.

Jake's is still around, but it's now just a diner in another location on the east side of Bend, OR. The phones are gone along with the gas and everything else. Times change. Where Jake's used to be is now a new shopping center. And the anchor tenant for that shopping center is Gottschalks.

The Gottshalks building was designed by Linane/Drews Architects (from Burbank, California), on the site of the old Jakes' Truck Stop and Diner, on South Highway 97.

The Bend Bulletin article, A Grand Turnout for Gottschalks, October 24, 2008, page B1 shows a
photo by Pete Erickson of my 2 paintings in the entry atrium of the new Gottschalks store.
Note: The original paintings are represented through my gallery, High Desert Gallery in Central Oregon. You can drop by the gallery or contact Todd Dow (the Gallery Director)
~ High Desert Gallery, Redmond, Oregon -- 541- 548-1811 (direct) 453 SW 6th Street at Evergreen Street.
~ High Desert Gallery, Sisters, Oregon -- 281 West Cascade Avenue at Oak Street
Gallery Mailing Address: PO Box 519, Bend, OR 97709-0519
Toll Free Exchange: 866-549-6250

*Note regarding selling the rights to an image:
When an artist makes a painting, under current U.S. Copyright law they automatically own all rights to that image. What this means is that even if you own an original piece of art, you do not own the rights to sell or use images of that art without written permission (and usually, payment) from the artist. This process is called licensing art. Copyright laws are integral to the success and survival of artists in our country. Because I own the copyrights to my paintings, I was able to assign Gottschalks the right to create the 2 murals in their Bend, Oregon store. Copyright laws for artist's must be protected. I am passionate about vigilantly protecting copyright laws and have lobbied to stop the Orphan Works legislation.


  1. I remember that billboard well and was always impressed with the sparkles. To find out that you airbrushed it is even more impressing.

    Yes, the truck stop fuel and showers are gone but not the food, fun, and passion of the diner crew. And drivers still drive out of their way to visit us.

    I drove down to the new store the other day. It felt weird to walk into a store that is located where our old tire shop was. A truck driver who was unloading something off of his truck joked with me about being lost.

    I am impressed with your artistic skills.

  2. Thanks Lyle! Sounds like you've been with Jake's a long time. Anyone new to Bend can visit the re-located Jake's diner at 2210 NE Hwy. 20 in Bend, Oregon. Call in your order if you want something to go at 541-382-0118. They even cater events.