TriMet seeks artists for Hollywood tribute wall

The victim's tribute is a $70,000 project

The walls of the Hollywood Transit Station in NE Portland were decorated to honor the victims of a racially fueled attack on May 27, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — TriMet is looking for artists to turn the Hollywood Transit Center’s ramp walls into an artistic tribute to victims of the May 26 MAX train assault.

The transit agency published a request seeking artists to submit qualifications to design and create a “text-based project” for the station’s Tribute Wall honoring Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, who were killed in the assault by a man who was shouting racist and anti-Muslim rants on a MAX train as it neared the station. Namkai-Meche, Best and Micah Fletcher intervened and 35-year-old Jeremy Christian stabbed them. Fletcher survived his life-threatening wounds.

Christian entered not guilty pleas to more than a dozen he faces in Multnomah County Circuit Court, including aggravated murder, menacing, first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

Wednesday, Nov. 29, is the deadline to send qualifications to the agency. Artists submitting qualifications must be able to finish the work by May 12, 2018. Artists will be selected by Dec. 5, with concepts due in January and final design approval in late February or early March.

The agency’s $70,000 project includes a $10,500 design fee and $59,500 to produce the mural. An eight-member advisory committee will select the artists.

Showing gratitude

TriMet officials said this week that the artwork would be a tribute to the spontaneous temporary memorial that sprang up at the station after the attack. “The tragedy sparked an immediate, tremendous outpouring of love and support at the transit center,” agency officials wrote in a document requesting artists’ qualifications. “Thousands of people expressed their appreciation for the men who intervened and offered condolences to their families and friends. Drawings and messages in chalk, among other items, continued to appear at the site long afterwards, creating a moving and spontaneous temporary memorial.”

The agency estimates that artists will have about 2,150 square feet to work with at the station near Northeast 42nd Avenue that sees about 2,400 MAX and bus riders each day.

“The 238-foot-long pedestrian ramp, the primary site for the project, has six switchbacks and stepped walls, presenting a unique possibility for exploring the visual plane,” agency officials wrote.

TriMet said the Tribute Wall’s goal is to “show gratitude for the courage of those who were targeted by and stood up to hatred, racism, xenophobia and violence; to show respect for those whose lives were lost, their families and for all who suffered; and to recognize the inspired response by our community.”

The agency encouraged artists to include “select phrases chosen from the original makeshift memorial.”

In addition, the agency said the art project would be done in conjunction with design and installation of a commemorative plaque by John Laursen of Press-22.

The agency also plans to improve the transit center, which could lead to major changes, and possible demolition of the ramp walls to improve access.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner.