Yoder received her Masters of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Indiana University in 1990. She had thought she wanted to teach, but there was a recession and teaching jobs were few and far between. When she didn't get a job, she headed back to Oregon where she had been born and raised.
Portland became Yoder's new home and she began working as the sales shop manager for a small nonprofit craft gallery. The pay was minimal, so when a friend who managed Raleigh Hills Pub asked if she could draw art on their chalkboards in exchange for a meal, she jumped at the chance!
It is always an adventure and I am happy that I have gotten to participate in making the McMenamins properties places that people enjoy visiting and making parts of their lives. -- Myrna Yoder
For several months Yoder drew pictures on the chalkboards along with the lists of the available beers. Ed Lawrence, the manager, asked her if she could paint something on the pub's back door. Excited about the prospect of earning a little extra money, Yoder agreed.
However, what she didn't tell him was that she had not painted for nearly 10 years. Her degree was in printmaking, specifically woodcuts. While her drawing skills were strong, she didn't have much experience in painting or even working with color, since most of her woodcuts were black and white.
Nonetheless, Yoder showed up one morning and spent the day painting on the door. She propped it open and stood outside, virtually in the parking lot, painting. She used the paint straight out of the tubes, painting by value. She used yellow for the lightest areas and blues for dark areas and the other colors for the in-between values. By the end of the day, the pub had a painting on its back door and Yoder had some money in her pocket.
Pub manager Lawrence was happy with what she had done and got permission to have Yoder paint something in the pub's bathrooms. This time, working at night, she painted murals that went all around the rooms.
In the ladies' room, Yoder painted a scene including an elderly nude woman getting ready to get in the tub. Mike McMenamin was a little worried about the content, so he showed it to his young daughter Shannon to see what she thought. She liked it, the painting stayed and they invited Yoder to do some work at the Power Station at Edgefield.
Since the early ‘90s, Yoder has continued to work for McMenamins. She thought it was just going to be a short-term opportunity, but one job followed another -- now, almost twenty years later, she continues to paint for McMenamins. She has painted something at almost every property -- murals, illustrations, graphics, decorative borders, faces on pipes... She has even snuck some woodcuts in!