In With the New: Local Artist Ben Jay’s Environmental Center Mural

Photo by Seth Aronson
Photo by Seth Aronson

Perhaps you’ve observed the steady progress of a mural unfolding on Monroe Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd streets. Late night revelers on 2nd Street may have seen the artist lugging wheeled scaffolding and art supplies in and out of The Majestic Theater at odd hours. Art materializes at bizarre hours, after all. Funded in part by a grant from the Benton County Cultural Coalition, the mural has steadily materialized over the past few weeks, colorfully sculpted in acrylic aerosols by local artist Ben Jay.

Describing the mural’s path to fruition, Jay explains that a BCCC grant was secured, and then permission to replace the old mural was secured from Greg Little, who owns Squirrels bar and the building the mural is being painted on. The key was for the new mural’s design to fit esthetically onto that particular wall, Jay says, “Because it’s on the Environmental Center, we thought we’d go with an environmental theme… I came up with all these designs, and I’m making everything else up as I go along.”

Etching his vision onto the side of a local landmark building, Jay works from rough sketches originally brainstormed with others, including John H. Knight from the Corvallis Environmental Center. “The [original] sketch wasn’t even in color,” Jay says. He has been working on the mural itself “for about a month or so, a couple days off here or there.”

It seems it’s being well received, at least by those who’ve noticed. “I think it’s badass!” exclaims Ryan, who works in the area. “To be honest, I haven’t even noticed a new mural,” says another Corvallisite, who also works downtown. Beauty, after all, resides in the eye of the beholder.

By Seth Aronson