Art McTevia gives Medford's iconic, 29-feet, fibergalss, Blackbird a new coat of paint. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell

Brush with fame

Medford's 29-foot fiberglass landmark on West Main Street — known as "The Bird"— received a fresh coat of paint early Wednesday morning.

The mammoth black bird, which dons a Santa Claus costume every holiday season and bunny ears during Easter, receives a new coat of paint every 10 to 15 years, according to Black Bird Shopping Center Manager Mike McMullen. It will take about 6 gallons of black paint and 2 gallons of yellow paint to cover the giant bird, costing about $2,700, McMullen said.

Art McTevia, 63, who started painting the top of the bird from a 30-foot lift at 6 a.m. Wednesday, painted the icon with his brother in 2002. He said he wasn't looking forward to doing it again this year.

"It's bigger than you think," he said, laughing. "Plus, being on a ladder right out in the sun isn't too fun."

Because of all the bird's bumps and lumps, McTevia said, he can use only brushes to paint with. Without his brother's help this year, he anticipated painting for about 10 to 12 hours Wednesday and will finish today.

The oversized bird has been perched in the parking lot at the Black Bird Shopping Center since 1965 as a way to lure customers to the store, which sells everything from fishing poles to jewelry.

McMullen said tourists frequently take photos next to the landmark, including several celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Steve Miller and Kirstie Alley.

Customers stopped Wednesday morning to watch McTevia paint the bird, which had an American flag and a fishing pole in its hand. Some customers shouted questions to the painter, who answered from the 30-foot lift.

"What are you doing?" one woman asked. "Are you just painting it?"

"I'm making it shiny and pretty," McTevia said.

Reach University of Oregon reporting intern Josephine Woolington at 541-776-4368 or

Share This Story