Without any self-promotion, Portland artist Pat Corrigan has become increasingly well-known around the city for his mural work.

He’s painted the five moons of Pluto that frame the stage at Mayo Street Arts, the “swans and rushes” scene on the exterior of Speedwell Projects art gallery and studio on Forest Avenue, and the sprawling landscape on the side of the four-story Oakhurst Dairy headquarters, also on Forest Avenue, among others.

His most recent gig, completed late last year, was replacing the iconic Greyhound bus station mural on a building at the corner of Congress and St. John streets (now owned by Maine Medical Center) with a leaf-covered tree design by a 19th-century British illustrator.

Still, if Corrigan had to list his artistic talents, mural painting wouldn’t be at the top.

“I haven’t really pushed it or anything. I just sort of get these jobs,” he said in a recent interview at the Apohadion Theater, his studio-turned-performance space in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. “But I’m really happy when I do.”

Corrigan, 53, has been an illustrator, a painter, a sign-maker, a musician, even a voice actor. His creativity is abundant.


But mural work requires finesse, particularly when it’s done in a public place and when it replaces something that had become a landmark, like the Greyhound logo.

Indeed, when Maine Med officials said the image would have to be replaced because the bricks behind it were no longer safe, some people worried the city would lose a piece of its history.

Corrigan admitted he had trepidation.

“People love to hate public art,” he said. “I think probably because it’s imposed on them. They don’t have a choice. Or there is sense that a closed group of people got together and decided to do something without input. Or maybe people don’t want to think about abstract art of high-minded conceptual work.”

There are other potential pitfalls as well. Two muralists who were picked to paint a massive scene on the south wall of Fort Andross in Brunswick have faced criticism over the proposal from those who feel the imagery uses objectionable stereotypes and under-represents Indigenous communities.

Corrigan played it safe for his most recent mural. The design he chose was someone else’s (and someone long dead), and the imagery was universal.


“No one is going to say ‘Oh, I hate trees,’” he said. “So, I kind of felt like it was Teflon.”

Tessa O’Brien, an artist and muralist in South Portland who knows Corrigan’s work, said he clearly “understood the assignment.”

“He’s so thoughtful and I think he has contributed so much to the city’s visual,” she said.

Tim McNamara, head of the St. John Valley Neighborhood Association, which oversaw the mural project for Maine Med, said he’s been surprised at how well the work has been received.

“I knew nothing about the process and don’t consider myself knowledgeable in the field of public art,” he said. “But the more you scratch on it, it’s been nothing but positive.”

Even as his artistic footprint grows throughout the city, Corrigan still doesn’t consider himself a muralist. The work has, however, provided some financial stability – something that can be elusive for artists.


“If I could do two murals a year, I would be really happy,” he said. “I like working outside. I have a couple people who can help who aren’t afraid of heights, are fun to be around, and can paint.

“Just the thought of being in a T-shirt on the side of a building with a cup of coffee. I don’t know, it’s pretty awesome.”

Portland artist Pat Corrigan created a mural of a swan-and-rushes scene on the side of Speedwell Projects on Forest Avenue. Sofia Aldinio/ Staff Photographer


Corrigan counts himself among those who had reverence for the old red, blue and white Greyhound mural.

He grew up in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, north of Providence, but came to Maine often to visit his father, who lived in Bangor.

“Whenever he came down to pick me and my sister up for vacations and stuff, we would always stop in Portland … and I can remember looking at that thing out the window of a Ford LTD with an 8-track playing the Beatles or whatever.”


An early interest in old-school comic books (his grandfather was an illustrator) led Corrigan to pursue art as a career. He didn’t venture far for college, earning his degree in illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1993.

At that time, he said, art school graduates were encouraged to seek out big markets, like New York or San Francisco. He had been in Boston and liked what the city had to offer, just not quite so much of it.

“Portland has everything Boston has but at, like, one-eighth scale,” he said.

When he got to Portland in the mid-1990s, Corrigan was strictly an editorial illustrator for newspapers and magazines, and some distinctly Maine corporate clients, including Bass Shoes, L.L. Bean and Funtown Splashtown USA.

But he had other interests and soon became heavily involved with the local music scene, largely through his friendship with Dave Noyes, who was then the trombonist for the city’s most popular band, Rustic Overtones.

Corrigan did illustrations for some of the band’s early albums.


He also had a passion for painting, which eventually pushed illustrating to the side. No more deadline pressure. No artistic restraints.

Portland artist Pat Corrigan stands outside the Apohadion Theater in Portland, where his studio is located and where he painted the vibrant poppies mural seen behind him. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In 2004, he started renting studio space on Hanover Street in Bayside. That’s where he got his first mural assignment. He said his landlord told him to paint whatever he wanted. He chose a close-up patch of orange poppy flowers facing in all different directions. Corrigan’s studio (and the mural) is still there, but the space doubles as a music and entertainment space, the Apohadion Theater, which he founded with Noyes, who died unexpectedly in 2019 at age 45.

“I kind of got the wind taken out of my sails when Dave died,” Corrigan said. “We started this place together, we shared studios, we were thick as thieves in all our doings.”

Amid his many artistic pursuits, Corrigan was often asked to paint murals.

Blainor McGough, former director at Mayo Street Arts, knew Corrigan through art and music circles. He had shown some of his paintings at the gallery. She remembers having a conversation with him about work that eventually prompted her to ask if he might paint something that could frame the theater’s stage. The mural includes trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) detail and depicts the moons of Pluto, as well as two cats on each end and an owl, snake, and juniper bush, which represent Maine plants and animals.

He completed the mural back in 2014, but people still ask about it.


“Everyone wants to know about the mural,” she said. “People love it.”

Corrigan continued to get mural work in the years that followed, to the point where it’s hard to go a few blocks in Portland without seeing his influence. McGough said Corrigan’s reach extends into less-public areas, too.

“There is an apartment on State Street that has a mural of his. I remember going to a party there,” she said. “He’s everywhere.”

In 2021, painter Pat Corrigan, right, and assistant John Supinski work on a mural commissioned by Oakhurst Dairy at its Forest Avenue location to show appreciation for the community, Maine dairy farmers and Oakhurst employees. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer


Like most of Corrigan’s mural opportunities, the Greyhound job came to him organically.

The brick building, located prominently at a busy Portland intersection, was a bus station for decades and the company logo, painted on the façade, became a landmark.


Maine Medical Center bought the building in April 2020, but it has not yet been repurposed.

However, when the hospital conducted an engineering study, it learned that the mural was never meant to be exterior. The wall had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe. In fact, the original mural contributed to the structural failure because the paint helped trap moisture in the wall.

When the hospital announced that it would need to come down, many in the community mourned.

But the loss became an opportunity, too.

Maine Med engaged the St. John Valley Neighborhood Association and said it would provide $20,000 for a new mural if the association led the search. McNamara, the neighborhood group president, said members put together a list of names of possible artists, four of whom submitted proposals last year.

Corrigan said given the history of the site – and the strong feelings people have about public art – he suggested a green-and-white illustration of trees (Portland is the Forest City after all) by Aubrey Beardsley, a British illustrator who was an early practitioner of what would become Art Nouveau. Beardsley was prolific during his career, but he died at age 25 of tuberculosis.


“I’m a fan, so I knew he would do something unique,” McGough said of Corrigan’s choice. “He understands Portland in a really interesting way. I love the connection to trees. It’s such an ugly part of town, no offense. It was so badly needed there.”

Corrigan finished the three-story mural in less than a month, just before winter arrived. Even though the design wasn’t his, he braced for backlash. Thankfully, it hasn’t come.

O’Brien, the South Portland muralist, said for artists who do mural work, the risk is always there.

“I am really selective about what I take on for those reasons,” she said. “It’s so nuanced. On one hand, murals and public art can really bring so much livelihood and joy and interest to a community. On the other hand, they can sometimes be controversial or upsetting. You run into issues any time you have one person being the arbiter of tastes.”

Corrigan did make a last-minute decision to depart slightly from Beardsley’s original design. At the bottom of the mural, in some white space that formed the tree trunks, Corrigan added two dogs running in opposite directions. Greyhounds, of course.

McNamara, who owns a nearby business, said people have been asking about the work often.


“It’s had a real positive impact on the neighborhood … more than we thought,” he said.

Portland artist Pat Corrigan is becoming increasingly well-known around town for his murals, including this one, a painting of the five moons of Pluto (plus cats) above the stage at Mayo Street Arts. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

It’s likely this mural is not Corrigan’s last. He might even get around to creating a website to promote his work, although most jobs come to him by word of mouth. The benefit of 30 years’ worth of connections.

Meanwhile, he and his partner moved recently to Bath after living in the city for decades. His studio, and creative energy, remains rooted in Portland.

“I’ve had so many weird, different opportunities here,” he said. “Portland just seems to sort of have paths going in every direction.”

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