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Larry Kangas' final mural comes to life

Lotus flower-themed work will be dedicated on Aug. 1


by: TIMES PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Sandy Kangas is working to finish a mural started by her husband, the late Larry Kangas.Larry Kangas lost his seven-year battle with follicular lymphoma late last fall, but his rich artistry as a muralist continues to bring beauty to Beaverton, as the final touches are being added to the last mural he designed on the wall opposite the Holistic Health Center near the corner of Southwest Second Street and Washington Avenue.

Kangas' wife, Sandy, and the couple's friend, Allison McClay, have spent the past several weeks adding a plethora of colors to the nature-themed mural, which features lotus flowers, frogs and other wildlife. The mural will provide the focal point for a landscaped oasis — complete with plants, benches and a water bubbler — next to the health center.

The public is invited to attend the dedication and celebration of the mural scheduled for Friday, Aug. 1, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Sandy and McClay, 30, who worked with Larry on a community village-themed mural project at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Vaughan Street in Portland, used the drawings he'd started on the building and filled in missing elements taken from his Photoshop illustrations.

"We tried to keep it as close as possible to what he created," McClay says.

McClay, a Northeast Portland resident who worked with Sandy on a project in Walla Walla, Wash., said she's honored to be part of bringing Larry's last public work to life.by: TIMES PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Allison McClay spent the last couple days coating the mural with a graffiti-resistant application.

"It was amazing," she says of the Northwest Portland mural project. "I showed up thinking I'd watch him paint. I ended up learning so much. He's so great.

"He called me his daughter," she adds. "I learned a lot from him, and met Sandy out of it. It was a great experience."

At the time of Larry's death at age 65, he had several projects going besides the Second Street mural, including a mural at the relocated Holistic Health Clinic at Southwest Second Street and Washington, and a lotus flower-based design.

His higher-profile works include a detailed nature scene on a pier of the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks depicting the Columbia River Gorge when Native Americans roamed the land, and the 65-foot-long scene at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Vaughn Street.

Kangas, who helped the Beaverton Arts Commission establish its mural program, was posthumously honored in early June with a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award at the commission's 2014 annual Art Awards.

Sandy, who met her future husband in a yoga class at 24-Hour Fitness on Northwest Cornell Road, and married eight years later in 2008, said she and Allison took the liberty of adding a hummingbird to the mural to represent Larry.

"He is the hummingbird," she says, pointing up toward the top of the mural. "There's Larry. He was a quick and full-of-energy kind of guy."

McClay, who spent the last couple days coating the mural with a graffiti-resistant application, said Larry inspired her to see how far she can take her artwork.

"I really have no idea if I can make a living at this," she says. "But at least he gave me an example of someone who did — and did it well."by: TIMES PHOTO: LACEY JACOBY - Sandy Kangas and Allison McClay are working to finish a mural in Beaverton that was started by the late Larry Kangas.



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