Painting the port

Casey McEneny, local artist and teacher at Newport High School, is creating a new mural at the Rogue Ales and Spirits Distillery in South Beach, which reflects and celebrates the port community. (Photo by Stephanie Blair)

Rogue Ales commissions local artist to create a mural

A new work of art is being installed at the Rogue Distillery in South Beach, one brush stroke at a time: a mural depicting keystones of the Newport port area, with the aquarium, NOAA and Hatfield Marine Science Center among them.

“It’s kind of a representation, recognition and appreciation of the (port) area and the people that make it work,” explained artist Casey McEneny, who is working on the wall eight hours per day, every day that the weather allows.

The mural is part of a brewery building agreement between Rogue and the Port of Newport when the ale-maker expanded the Ocean Aging Room and the Rolling Thunder Cooperage.

“We both thought that painting a meaningful mural was a great way to make sure that the new building had soul, as well as functionality,” explained Hagen Moore, creative director at Rogue Ales and Spirits.

The Port of Newport provided an initial sketch and concept, and Moore set out to find a local artist to bring the project to life. When he found the work of McEneny, things really started rolling.

“I gave him a call to talk about the project. and he was interested,” said Moore. “It took a year or so to get everything lined up but he's underway now — we're excited and happy to have him painting the mural.”

McEneny helped refine some details and add design elements to enrich the mural, then he set to work in South Beach. However, a project this size is a lofty task for one artist with three months to pull it off. So, McEneny called on an old friend, who flew up from Atlanta: Jason Kopydlowski.

“He was my roommate in art school, and we were always good friends and kind of have the same philosophies in commercial art and painting styles.”

With the two of them working together, they’re making quick work of the wall. The process starts with McEneny’s sketch, which he projects onto the blank wall at night so they can trace it at full size with a warm brown paint. Then, Kopydlowski lays down the base colors and McEneny comes in to paint the fine details. Of course, they’re entertaining themselves the whole way, joking and ribbing each other.

But McEneny says it’s the reaction of passers-by that have been most rewarding for him, including local residents and employees of NOAA and the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“So far everyone has had really positive things to say about it,” said Moore. “People really seem to enjoy watching it develop and some even stop to talk with Casey about the mural.”

The final product should be finished by the end of summer, but anyone and everyone is welcome to stop by and see the work-in-progress as it goes up.