The Clackamas print. (Oregon City, Oregon) 1989-2019, January 27, 1999, Page 6, Image 6

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    6
Wednesday, January 27,1999
Barlow Mural: th
Painted in the mid-'70's by Art Instructor Jack Adams as a gift
SHELBI WESCOTT
Staff Writer
Jack Adams stood beside me, his
eyes full of life and sparkling with
excitement. His hands, the hands
that have sculpted people into cre­
ation and given flowers their color,
flew through the air in an animated
pantomime.
Hesitantly, a young man inter­
rupted. “Are you the one who
painted this mural?” he asked.
Jack nodded.
“Can you tell me what it means?”
And Jack’s face lit up again as he
proceeded to explain the motives
and meanings behind his work of
art.
Perhaps you too have wondered
about the mural in Barlow Hall. Per­
haps you have created your own
story surrounding the pyramid of an­
guished people, or even invented in­
terpretations of its symbols. If you
have, then you are one of many who
have been captivated by the mural’s
complexity.
The Image Unveiled
I, to be honest, cannot shake the
image of that prowling Jackal—its
muzzle soaked in blood, legs emerg­
ing out of black smoke, eyes nar­
rowed and glowing, looking down
on anyone who passes by as if they
were prey.
What exactly does the Jackal rep­
resent?
“He is a Beast,” Adams de­
scribed. “A Beast which emerges
from our industry and pollutes the
world.” He admits that he borrowed
the idea from an African-American
artist who used the image as a sym­
bol for social protest. Adams’ own
protest was against industrialization
and commercialism, both of which
he saw as dire threats to our world.
If that was not what you got from
looking at the Jackal, it really does
not matter.
“Many people would share their
own interpretations of my mural,”
commented Adams, “and some­
times they had better ideas than I
did.”
Adams’ own explanation, how­
ever, is truly amazing. He is, after
all, its creator.
He stated that one half of the mu­
ral depicts the filth and corruption
of our land. The other half depicts a
perfect environment, free from the
plagues of our current world.
Yet the most impressive portion
of this mural, not to mention
Adams’ favorite part, is the wall of
people.
“They were an afterthought, but I
can’t imagine [it] without them,”
Adams said. “The whole wall is very
progressive. We start out with the
Indians, who were pushed off their
land so people could exploit it, and
then we move on to soldiers. Next
to them, the faceless pplicemen.”
Those last two images are a di­
rect reflection of the era in which
the mural was painted. The Vietnam
war had ended only a few years be­
fore, and society was still coping
with the aftermath. Also, school pro­
tests were on the rise and police
were forced to arm and protect
themselves against angry students.
“The mural represents the early
‘70s, how I felt and how society
felt.” Adams pondered for a moment
and then added, “That is the one
thing I would want students to walk
away knowing about my project.”
As the walLof faces continues, a
startling image appears: huddled
people, ghostlike, with terror on
their faces, clinging to each other.
They are struggling to find a way
out of the destruction and the watch­
ful eyes of that “Beast” that lurks
above. Adams calls these thè “re­
pressed” people. He spent a long
time creating each face to be indi­
vidual and to be flooded with emo­
tion and personality. He succeeded.
However, some of these repressed
people are able to break free and
emerge victorious. They are called
the “family figures.” These moth­
ers and fathers send their children
into a new world, free from harm
and pollution. Adams had pictured
that as a symbol of releasing their
Jack Adams briefly visited Clackamas last Wednesday to discuss the meaning of his mural Ce
children into a new beginning.
These children have Spirit Guides
to watch over and protect them. The
Spirit Guides, all male and dressed
in long brown robes, were an idea
taken from Greek mythology. Al­
though they bear a resemblance to
monks, do not let the attire fool you,
these are angels and the guardians
of this new and “perfect” world.
The Origin Explained
Adams started this project in
1973. He awoke one night from a
TIMOTHY A. BELL / Clackamas Print
This section of the mural represents Spirit Guides from Greek myth forming a path of protection for the
children of innocence.
strange dream and it was immedi­
ately impressed upon him to turn his
dream into a painting. Snapshots
from this dream became the foun­
dation for the mural’s main concept.
“I saw an airplane traveling
through the sky and, as it was fly­
ing, it turned into a butterfly,”
Adams recalled.
It was this image of the metamor­
phosis from the unnatural to the
natural that inspired the mural’s
theme: The old environment vs. the
ment vs. the new environ
The name for the
“Centrigon,” also ap
Adams’ dream. What does
Nothing, really. Adams
even had to look up the
dictionary to learn what
implied. He decided it m
Gods, which has nothing
the mural itself. Noneth
is the mural’s official title.
When Barlow Hall o
1974, Adams who was w