It’s hard to take just a quick glance at the work of Mehran Heard. His illustrations and paintings include so many characters, details and images, winding through and wrapping around each other, you feel compelled to dive in and explore. And that’s all by design. Heard wants to take you on a journey.
“And once you come to your own discovery, you kind of own it personally,” he says. “You’re like, ‘that’s mine, I took the work and effort to find that weird creature in that corner that’s saying something to me.’ The viewer can have their own personal little romance.”
Heard, who also goes by the artist moniker Eatcho, works in many mediums including painting, illustration, comics and textile art. His new mixed media piece titled “Mothers” is part of the Portland Art Museum’s current show, Black Artists of Oregon, which runs through March 17, 2024.
Heard’s also a prolific muralist, creating huge, colorful pieces throughout Portland. One of his most celebrated murals, at the corner of Northeast Alberta Street and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, is titled “Until We Get There.” The 10 feet by 17 feet mural shows “a world where, in the hands of the youth, we can get at least closer to Babylon and the utopia that we search for,” he says.
Heard grew up in Clovis, California, outside Fresno. One day, at the age of 5, he was watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon on TV with a friend of his mom. As the cartoon played, the friend started sketching Mickey Mouse on a piece of paper as young Heard looked on in awe.
“And I realized right there, everything outside you can take in” and draw it yourself. “And when he showed me that — I was done. I was like, ‘oh, I get it.’ And so I’ve just been drawing ever since then.”
Later, at age 19, he and a friend were creating an elaborate 3 a.m. sidewalk chalk art installation, outside his former grade school. As they drew, a dental battle emerged: “Doctor Hygiene versus Commander Cavity,” Mehran explains.
“And they’re fighting and Dr. Hygiene says, ‘you better eat your veggies.’ And I misspelled it. I was so tired.” “Eat your veggies” became “eatcho veggies.” “And I say, ‘I’m gonna make that my street name.’” And it stuck — he’s been Eatcho ever since.
Heard continues to make work in whatever medium feels right at the moment, creating his elaborately detailed pieces that reveal an intricate web of life. No matter what the creation, Heard hopes his work inspires viewers to look deeper and to be inspired by the wonder of the natural world.
“I constantly want to remind people about how magical this is. We’re actually all collectively creating magic.”
To watch more Oregon Art Beat stories on artists featured in the Black Artists of Oregon exhibition, visit OPB’s YouTube channel.