Moving time: Four Freedoms

February 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Silverton muralist Tonya Smithburg is recreating Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” for their new home at Seven Brides Brewing.  Photo by Larry Kazzell

Silverton muralist Tonya Smithburg is recreating Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” for their new home at Seven Brides Brewing. Photo by Larry Kazzell

By Brenna Wiegand

On Jan. 27, Silverton’s original Four Freedoms mural was reduced to matchsticks. But as the sign on the chain-link fence announced, the mural will make a grand second appearance.

The mural’s former home on the old Masonic Lodge on Main Street was demolished and it cost too much – upwards of $90,000 without guarantee of success – to move the original copy of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms. The mural – Silverton’s first – was painted by David McDonald in 1993. The old building is being replaced with a new facility for MAPS Credit Union.

Building owner Ben Johnston donated $20,000 toward the new mural which will be installed at 990 N. First St.. in front of the Seven Brides Brewery warehouse.

“I’m glad we could make it work,” Seven Brides owner Jeff DeSantis said. “We’ve got the space; we’ve got parking – it just makes so much sense.”

The Silverton Urban Renewal District granted $4,000 to Silverton Mural Society for the copyright. The entire project is estimated to cost about $50,000.

“We still need $15,000 to finish the project; there’s enough to complete two murals and the placard,” Vince Till said.

Muralist Tonya Smithburg is tackling the extensive project; each of the four panels takes about two months to paint. The mural society provides paint, brushes and pays the artist $4,000 per panel.

“I like doing murals because a lot more people get to enjoy them,” Smithburg said while at work on her scaffold. “It makes a big impact and often provides historical information.”

Volunteers needed pickaxes for digging holes for the support beams.

Silverton Mural Society
PO Box 880, Silverton, OR 97381
Donations may be directed to the
First Freedoms fund or designated
it for overall mural maintenance.
503-873-6572

“Ron Jiricek (Jiricek Construction) has donated a lot of his time,” Till said. “He did the bracing inside and erected the steel beams, then Scott Marcum (Crusher Service) did the welding.” Logan Kahn is Vince’s “right hand man.”

 The originals were demolished with the former Masonic Lodge. Photos by Kristine Thomas.

The originals were demolished with the former Masonic Lodge. Photos by Kristine Thomas.

“About $4,000 in labor and engineering has been donated – it’s outstanding they care so much about getting the Four Freedoms back,” Till said. “We’re hoping to put up the first panel Feb. 5.”

Four of Silverton’s 27 murals to his credit, Larry Kassell (Kassell Concepts) is creating a placard with the story of Rockwell’s 1943 contribution to the war effort.

“My opinion is that Norman Rockwell is the best painter that ever lived – that means Rembrandt, Michelangelo and all those people,” Kassell said. “He was poo-pooed by the critics because he was an illustrator, but I think illustrators make far better painters. They’ve got to have a theme and please their employer and work to a deadline too. Norman Rockwell did all of those things – and he told a good story.”

“People write letters from as far away as Africa about the murals – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want,” Till said. “Makes you think of how important it is; maybe more so because we are in troubled times.”


Tonya Smithburg. Photo by Larry Kassell.

Tonya Smithburg. Photo by Larry Kassell.

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