Take a look at the incredible artwork that adorns our walls, ceilings, floors, doors and more at our pubs, breweries and hotels. Who thinks up this stuff? Who creates it? What is the inspiration? Originally, the artwork served a practical purpose – as Mike McMenamin puts it, "We had good-sized walls to cover." But over the course of twenty-plus years, the art evolved into an expression of the building's history, the company's mission and of McMenamins itself.
“You can’t just decorate an old building like a VW bus.” – McMenamins artist Lyle Hehn
There is an astounding amount of historical research, thought and care that goes into each piece. The artists have dubbed their style "historical surrealism." Company historian Tim Hills starts the process by gathering documents, oral histories, photographs, blueprints and more that tell the tale of a particular location. He talks with former residents of the neighborhood or students of the school or perhaps descendants of the original owners to learn what made the spot unique and lively. Then, the core group of craftspeople (Lyle Hehn, Myrna Yoder, Jennifer Joyce, Joe Cotter, Kolieha Bush, Olivia Behm and others) gather to discuss the anecdotes or images that inspire them or have already sprung to life within their imaginations.
Next, they map out the area to be embellished -- perhaps a pub wall or guestroom door -- and get to work, sketching, transferring and painting. The creative process can take anywhere from days to months, but because of the ever-changing nature of the company, no location is ever considered "finished."
McMenamins artwork – and the philosophy behind it – is continually being reenvisioned, renewed and refreshed. Even if you think you've seen it all, keep your eyes open – our artists are in perpetual motion so you never know what you'll find around the bend.