Dan and Mae Hitchcock
Gazette-Times August 6, 2009
Big Paintings enliven Small Town
BY KYLE ODEGAURD
Couple creates logging mural for store
ALSEA – Dan and Mae Hitchcock have done hundreds of large–scale paintings throughout the west, including stages for the Oregon Country Fair and a massive portrait of Jimi Hendrix staring down on downtown Seattle.
Although the married artists are productive, they’ve so far keep a low profile in their hometown of Alsea.
“We’re the most unfamous, unknown artist in the world.” Dan Hitchcock laughed.
That’s changing locally, however, thanks in part to a mural depicting loggers at John Boy’s Alsea Mercantile, known to locals as the Merc. On April 26, the 8-by 12-foot picture – a sepia-tone reproduction of a 1950’s photograph off Honey Grove Road– was unveiled at the general store.
“That mural had not been up three minutes when a woman walked out of the Merc and gasped, ‘That’s my brother.” Mae Hitchcock said.
None of the men from the photo remain, but they have plenty of surviving family in the area. Matt Clark, one of the owners of the business, said his family is considering additional murals depicting local history.
The Hitchcocks have lived off South Fork Road since 1995, but they began getting more involved in the community when their daughter, 11-year-old Mae Lee, started attending school.
Mae Hitchcock said the mural was a way the pay tribute to Alsea. “We love Alsea. We love this place. It’s such a nice little town.” Mae Hitchcock added, her Mississippi drawl curving around some words. At first glance, the couple might not seem to be a perfect fit for Alsea, a town whose logging roots run deep. But love sometimes works in funny ways.
Dan Hitchcock grew up in Arkansas, so he, too, has an accent – and a ponytail. His wife wears cat-eye glasses and has royal blue and purple streaks in her hair. Their clothes are dotted with paint splatters.
The two met 27 years ago in Texas at a drawing session and were married three months later.
“We just knew from the first date, from the very first moment.” Mae Hitchcock said.
The couple moved to Seattle in 1989, but a trip to the Oregon Country Fair sent them looking for property in Oregon. Their first year in Alsea, the Hitchcock's lived in a van on their 20-acer spread, which the Alsea River runs through.
They’re building a house, but until it’s finished, they’re living out of their studio – a cluttered space that has paint cans on the floor next to the couch, which is next to salmon cut-out paintings that soon will be swimming at the Merc. Above on the walls of the studio is a jumbled patchwork of artwork and family photos.
Mae Hitchcock said that it’s fun to “tag team” paintings with her husband. While she’s great with colors and landscapes, he enjoys focusing on portraits.
And another set of eyes can help each put the big picture into perspective.
“On a large painting, you have to get back 1,000 times. That’s the only way you can see it.” Dan Hitchcock said.
Someday soon, the couple might have a new partner in murals, daughter Mae Lee is a budding artist, too.
The mural isn’t Dan and Mae Hitchcock’s only painting in town. They also have painted small signs for local businesses and sponsor boards for the Alsea School. Dan Hitchcock also has a side business doing pencil portraits.
Though they’ve painted several murals in Eugene, the Hitchcocks are looking
to do more artwork in the Corvallis area.
For more information, call the Hitchcock's 487-4231,
Hitchcockmastercode@gmail.com or see DanAndMaeHitchcock.com.
For more information, call the Hitchcock's 541-487-4231, e-mail Hitchcockmastercode@gmail.com