Saturday, November 21, 2015

SE 48th & Hawthorne Roses

Sometimes when I think I've gotten a little too esoteric here, I remember somebody has a Tumblr (and a Google Map to go with it) that are just about Portland murals of roses and nothing else. You probably know about this already because I, uh, link to this Tumblr a lot. Still, I'm reasonably sure that this humble blog is less esoteric than that Tumblr. I like to think this is a fascinating and eclectic corner of the interwebs, at least if viewed over a sufficiently long time scale, e.g. if you want to see something other than murals, just go back to somewhere prior to last August or so, and there's all sorts of other stuff. Ok, it was mostly public art then if I remember right, but there were a bunch of bridges before that, plus vacation photos now and then. And after murals it'll be something else, though I'm not sure exactly what just yet.

Anyway, the aforementioned Google map included a couple of painted roses somewhere around SE 48th & Hawthorne, so a while back I went to track them down. They apparently didn't merit a post of their own on the Tumblr, so I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but eventually I found the one you see here. It was quite the thrilling adventure, as I recall. Although it was a while ago, and it's possible I'm misremembering, and the whole middle part with the tigers never actually happened.

But I digress. Turns out the rose here is identical to a couple on a different building further west on Hawthorne. So maybe it's a sort of corporate logo, though PortlandMaps shows different LLCs owning the two buildings (yes, I checked). Or maybe there's an obscure local rose artist who works in stencil and doesn't sign their work. Dunno.

Second Nature Design mural

The next mural up is at Second Nature Design at SE 47th & Clay, just off Hawthorne. This was created in 2013 by J.Shea, who also did a number of the Forest for the Trees murals that have appeared here before, e.g. the one at Kidd's Toy Museum, and ones at SE 8th & Sandy, and SE 9th & Oak. I think I ran across this one while paging through the artist's website for one of those previous posts. I rather like the others, so I figured I should track this one down too. It's because of stuff like this that I use the word "ongoing" a lot when talking about the, uh, ongoing mural project.

Creating Community Mural, SE Chavez & Division

The next mural on our tour is a large design on the Rite Aid drugstore at SE Chavez & Division. It seems kind of weird that there'd be a community mural on a big corporate chain drugstore, even in SE Portland, but this one actually has a long history. Before it was a drugstore, this building was a Kienow's grocery store (a long-defunct small Portland-area chain), and they let some local residents paint a mural on the store circa 1984. It faded over the years, and the building changed occupants, and by 2003 the people who decide these things felt a new mural was in order, and local artist Rin Carroll Jackson was selected to create the new one you see here. Her website calls this the "Creating Community Mural", so that's the name I'm going with.

The interesting part is that this happened right at the height of City Hall's anti-mural paranoia, after the city lost a court case with an aggressive billboard company. It turns out that under the state constitution, the city can't distinguish between capital-A art and mere commercial speech, and anywhere murals are allowed is fair game for advertising too. So for a few years the city prohibited new murals entirely, and sent work crews around to paint over any illicit wall art they could find. This mural was grandfathered in, though, due to the previous mural. So long as you were painting over something that was there before 1998, and you made sure to paint in the same exact spot and not cover a single additional square inch with anything that looked like Art, the city could allow that without also letting the barbarians through the gate. Eventually the city came up with a couple of maybe-clever legal dodges involving permits and easements that let them re-legalize mural painting, while keeping the nefarious billboard companies at bay, at least for now.

O'Malleys mural

Ok, continuing today's Foster Road theme, the next stop on the mural tour is outside O'Malley's Saloon & Grill, a bar at SE 66th & Foster, just east of the previous three posts here. Their Facebook page includes a 2009 photoset of a few people painting mural panels. I mean, if you're interested in photos of people painting stuff, which I realize is sort of a niche interest. Also has an interview with one of the artists, mostly concerning a much larger mural he did on Hawthorne... which, as it turns out, I already have a long-delayed draft post about. Hopefully I'll get around to posting that at some point.

Bar Carlo mural

Next up on the mural tour takes us to Bar Carlo, at SE 65th & Foster. If you're following along at home, you might have noticed this is just a couple of blocks east of the last two tour stops. I'm still trying to make a dent in my ginormous draft posts folder, and my latest semi-brilliant plan is to go through my remaining draft mural posts roughly oldest to newest, and worry about the non-mural ones -- which do, in fact, exist -- once I'm done with that. Given that the last few posts involve photos from December 2014, I'm not going to predict any sort of ETA on when I'll have this sorted out.

Anyway, going back to the topic of the current post, this is one I ran across in an old Kay's Bird Club post. It looks like a couple of scenes from Russian folklore, but that's not really my area of expertise and I don't get the reference. The restaurant itself isn't Russian, but the surrounding neighborhood has a large Russian immigrant population, so I guess the theme sort of makes sense, maybe.

Bar Maven mural

The next stop on the mural tour is outside Bar Maven, at SE Foster and what Google Maps calls "SE 63rd Ave-SE 62nd Ave Alley". It kind of looks like at least 3 people worked on different parts of this one. Searching the interwebs about it comes back with nothing, though, and I can't make out any of the signatures well enough to search on them. Oh, well.

Meticon Bikes mural

Ok, the next Portland mural on our ongoing tour is at the Meticon Bikes shop at SE 60th & Foster. The old Murals of Portland website gave the artist's name as Stephen Williams, but that's all I know about this one. When I took these photos the shop was closed and I honestly thought it was defunct, and I had a few prepared remarks about how this was a sign that gentrification hadn't reached this part of the city yet, seeing as the neighborhood wasn't able to support a local bike store. Turns out I was wrong and the shop just keeps eccentric hours, so I had to toss all that earnest social commentary stuff. Still, Foster hasn't sprouted any luxury apartment towers yet, so I wouldn't have been entirely wrong.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Do Not Ignore the Humanity in Front of Your Eyes

The next stop on the ongoing mural tour is at N. Albina & Killingsworth, where a building bears the inscription "Do Not Ignore the Humanity in Front of Your Eyes". I've found a lot of photos of this on the interwebs (see [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]), but nobody (myself included) seems to know who painted this or why. Though I suspect that if this sort of sentiment has to be spelled out for people, the struggle is not going well.

SE 76th & Mitchell

Ok, the next post up is something I debated whether I was going to post at all. There's a guy on Flickr who posts a lot of Portland mural photos, and he geotags his photos religiously so they're easy to track down. (I used to tag and geotag my Flickr photos too, but it's kind of a hassle, and I stopped several years ago.) A while ago he posted several photos of elaborate graffiti on the back of a warehouse at SE 76th & Mitchell, just north of Foster Road and a short walk from the Firland Parkway blocks. I wasn't sure it was really blog material, but I put it on my great big TODO map just in case, and eventually I was in the area and tracked it down. Sure enough, graffiti wall. I don't usually do graffiti walls, but since I'd gone to all this trouble already, I figured maybe I should go ahead and post the photos anyway. So I went back and forth, and this post sank down into my vast Drafts folder, never to be seen again, until now. Anyway, just to be clear, this isn't a precedent. If all you do is tag buildings with your initials, you almost certainly won't get a post here, or receive the international fame and fortune that comes along with being posted about here.

Hawthorne Ink murals

Next up are a couple of murals outside the Hawthorne Ink tattoo place at SE 34th & Hawthorne. One mural's by Hunter Armstrong, who also did the giant snail mural at SE 22nd & Ankeny. The other one is by Jason Prouty of Garage31. I've said this before, I think, but I just want to thank artists who include a web address, Twitter handle, etc., in their work. This blog business is so much easier when people do that, and it helps me sound like I sorta-know what I'm talking about, which is nice.

Don Pancho murals, NE Alberta

Ok, our first stop today is the set of murals outside the Don Pancho Market & Taqueria, at NE 20th & Alberta. I don't know anything else about the murals, and I also haven't tried the tacos here, so I don't have a lot of material for a proper blog post. That's sort of the problem with a lot of stuff I have in drafts right now. I feel like I ought to say something and not just post photos, and I sort of hit a wall at that point. I could probably fill a few paragraphs snarking about Alberta St. gentrification, but I feel like I've covered that topic a lot already. So anyway, enjoy the photos, I guess.

ok, let's try this again...

It's been ages since I've done a real post here. I got tied up with Real Work, and sort of got out of the habit of posting. I'd occasionally look at my Drafts folder and get sort of discouraged; at one point I had a goal of zero drafts by New Years, and that's not looking very likely at this point. Anyway, I thought about doing another lame "keepalive" post just so I'd post something this month, but I don't have anything better to do this weekend, and there's a huge storm outside, so I'll see if I can put a few actual posts together for once.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

keepalive (again)

So it's been another ultra-busy month at $REAL_JOB, and I haven't posted anything here since late August. I've never gone an entire month without posting anything at all; back in March I posted a short "keepalive" thing just to have a nonzero post count for the month. I think I'm going to have to do that again this month. I mean, I reserve the right to go on a huge writing binge between now and midnight tomorrow, but I have to say the odds don't favor it. Maybe next month...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SE 9th & Yamhill

Every June-or-so, a few more City Repair painted intersections pop up here and there around Portland. To be honest I haven't put a lot of effort into locating this year's crop of new ones; given the size of my Drafts folder right now, I wouldn't say I'm in desperate need of new material, and Real Job stuff keeps absorbing what would otherwise be free time to pursue this. In short, I've found precisely one of them so far, and only because I stumbled across it. So with that intro out of the way, we're at freshly painted SE 9th & Yamhill, where a big hops-and-barley design graces the intersection. This intersection's kind of an unusual case in that we're in a light industrial area, not a residential neighborhood. One corner of the intersection is home to Rogue's Green Dragon Pub, while diagonally across is a large Rogue warehouse. So the relevance of the design to its surroundings is kind of obvious here. (And yes, I noticed the thing when I came by for lunch and a beer or two or so.) So this is the bit where I tell you I told you so: A year ago, in a ranty bit in a post about the NE 12th & Beech intersection, I predicted that companies would eventually get in on the act, and the painted intersection thing would evolve away from being a community volunteer effort. I figured tech companies would do it eventually. I didn't figure it would happen the very next year or be arranged by a local brewery, although that kind of makes sense in retrospect. Still, when it comes to predicting the future, when you have a chance to take partial credit, take it.

Speaking of hops, this summer I tried my hand at growing a hop vine for the first time. You can assume by the lack of gardening photos here that it's not going that well. I don't believe I've ever seen that many bugs on a single plant before. Tiny little pinhead-sized bugs, clinging to stems and the bottoms of leaves, sucking the life out of the poor vine. After investing in this plant, I came across a Michigan State extension document about "Hop Insects and Diseases", which begins with an old Kentish proverb about hop growing: "First the flea, then the fly, then the mould, then they die". The remainder of the document is equally encouraging. Still, hops are a perennial (assuming they survive), so maybe I'll have better luck next year.

SE 3rd & Morrison mural #2

Last summer, a colorful snail mural appeared on a City Liquidators building in industrial SE Portland, as part of the 2014 Forest for the Trees event. A few months later, a second mural appeared next to it, full of bright colors and swirling eagles. This new one was created by artist Yatika Fields for a Native arts event called Native+Portland. If you look closely, the mural includes an "#FFTTNW" hashtag even though it was painted months after the festival. The official festival Instagram also has a photo of Fields painting the mural, so I'm tagging this post accordingly. I figure if they're not going to get all pedantic about it, I probably shouldn't go there either.

EuroClassic Furniture mural

Next mural up wraps around the outside of the EuroClassic Furniture store at SE 66th & Foster. (I don't get out to SE Foster a lot, so I first heard of this place in a Kay's Bird Club post.) It's got vignettes of Venice, London, and other European cities, surrounded by painted-on arches and columns and whatnot. On the east side of the building, a large sign reads "русский мебельный магазин", which just means "Russian furniture store". Which isn't too unusual given the surrounding neighborhood's large Russian immigrant population. Going by the store's website it seems like a regular (and well-regarded) US-style furniture store that welcomes Russian speakers and has a loud wacky mural outside. I dunno, I guess I was expecting something a little more flamboyant given the exterior.

Manuel Levenson Rose

It's been a while since we've done any Weston rose murals, but I found another one recently, so another of this humble blog's ongoing projects is still ongoing, it seems. The Manuel Levenson Rose is located on the Columbia East office building, on SE Division at 100th, just north of spooky, mysterious Kelly Butte. I'm not entirely sure who the rose is named for, but it's dated 1974, and a quick search comes up with someone by that name who lived in Portland and died in 1974. So that seems like a reasonable guess.

I occasionally wonder what future archeologists might think if they stumbled across a few of these rose-and-flag designs. Like, maybe the Portland area saw a renewed Lancaster vs. York civil war spanning the last quarter of the 20th century and the first couple of decades of the 21st. If they kept digging around the city they'd eventually bump into someone's discarded SCA/cosplay armor, too, and we'd go into the textbooks all wrong. I mean, unless this humble blog survives centuries into the future to set the record straight(ish). (Hey, this site does get archived by the Wayback Machine, so I can't totally rule that out. Howdy there, future historians!)

SE 23rd & Morrison mural #2

Next up we're visiting the second mural at the old gas station at SE 23rd & Morrison. This one was created by artist Paige Wright for the 2014 Forest for the Trees, and you'll notice that it includes a large ceramic face in addition to the painted bits. The festival's Tumblr calls it a "ceramic mural", which is an odd-sounding term even if it's basically accurate.

SE 23rd & Morrison mural #1

Our ever-ongoing mural tour is paying a visit to a former gas station at SE 23rd & Morrison, where a pair of murals were painted for the 2014 Forest for the Trees event. This is about a block due north of the warehouse on Belmont where we looked at The Fall and another unnamed mural earlier today (well, the posts went up today. I took the photos months ago.) So the first one here on Morrison is this giant robot mural, created by local artist Blakely Dadson. A big Forest for the Trees photoset at Empty Kingdom has lots of photos of last year's crop of murals being painted, including several of this one. I gather, from this, that you want to color in the laserblasts first thing. Rembrandt neglected to do this, and viewers barely even notice his laserblasts.

Hawthorne Fish House mural

The next mural up is outside the Hawthorne Fish House restaurant on SE Hawthorne near 44th. This was painted by Portland artist Matt Schlosky, sometime before November 2013 (since some of his photos of it are dated then.)

My usual policy here that posting about someone's mural isn't an endorsement (or otherwise) of the business inside. Or at least I've intended to say that, whether I actually have or not. I'm going to make an exception this time, however, because tasty Wisconsin-style fried fish (oh, and deep-fried cheese curds). Happily endorsed, for whatever that's worth.

Hawthorne Literary Mural

Next mural up is the Hawthorne Literary Mural, a collection of author portraits on the side of a building at SE 33rd & Hawthorne. This was painted back in 1997 by New Orleans artist Jane Brewster. The building it's on used to be a large, rambling used book shop, but it's evolved into more of a general vintage store in recent years, so the connection with the mural isn't as clear as it once was. I've seen this called the "Sylvia Plath mural" more than once as hers is one of the more prominent (and spooky) portraits. Turns out that it and many of the other portraits are now available in t-shirt or coffee mug form via Cafe Press.

Warehouse mural, SE 23rd & Belmont

The next mural up is at SE 23rd & Belmont, on the same warehouse building as The Fall. This one's on the opposite (west) side of the building, facing the La Calaca Comelona restaurant. I didn't see a signature on this one and I don't really know anything about it.

The Fall

The next mural on our ongoing tour is an autumn-themed one on SE Belmont near 23rd, on the side of a small warehouse building. The Fall was created for the 2013 Forest for the Trees event by Australian artist Reka One. A 2013 Vandalog post has a few photos of it and a larger Reka One mural in San Francisco, along with a TV interview clip about the latter.

OR-7 mural

Next mural up on the tour is the OR-7 mural outside the Alleyway Cafe & Bar on NE Alberta at 24th. The design's based on the famous Oregon wolf OR-7 (a.k.a. "Journey"). Here's a blog post about the mural by Roger Peet, one of the artists.

Transformation, Integrity, Community

Next mural on our ongoing tour is Transformation, Integrity, Community, on a Concordia University building at NE 30th & Ainsworth. The brief RACC description:

This mural was painted by Concordia University students. It prominently displays an open book with the words transformation, integrity and community under a flowing tree. The mural is physically situated where the campus meets the community.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Ciao Vito mural

The mural tour is still on its extended visit to NE Alberta St. -- I thought that for a change I'd do a few in the same area instead of hopping randomly around the city. This time we're checking out the bright design outside Ciao Vito, an Italian restaurant at Alberta & NE 22nd. This is directly across the street from the To Oregon With Love mural we looked at a couple of posts ago. The old Murals of Portland site mentioned that this is by Tom Cramer, who also created the Machinery mural on Williams Ave. that we looked at recently. I don't know the exact date on the mural here, but a 2012 Willamette Week profile of Cramer seems to indicate it's at least as old as Machinery, and is much older than the current restaurant. So technically I probably shouldn't be calling it "Ciao Vito mural", but I haven't seen any other name for it, so I'll have to go with that.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Keep Your Chin Up

The next stop on the mural tour is on NE Alberta once again; in fact it's on the opposite side of the same building as the last installment (To Oregon With Love), and the artist behind that mural co-created the subject of this post too. So this is Keep Your Chin Up, painted for the Forest for the Trees event by Portland artists Blaine Fontana & Zach Yarrington, and Tokyo's Jun Inoue.

So there's sort of a local mural subgenre centered on upbeat, inspirational phrases: This one, obviously; the huge Everything is Everything in industrial SE Portland; the phrase "You are confined only by the walls you build yourself" on To Oregon With Love, and probably a few others I'm forgetting offhand. I have to say I have mixed feelings about this subgenre. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but Alberta was the core of a historically black neighborhood that's now gentrifying at warp speed, displacing many longtime residents in the process. In this context, murals coaching people about unlimited personal achievement seem a bit... problematic, if you ask me.

To Oregon With Love

The ongoing mural tour returns to NE Alberta St. again (and not for the last time), and this time we're looking at To Oregon With Love, at the corner of NE 22nd & Alberta. This was created in 2014 by Blaine Fontana, who also did the cool Koi mural on SE Hawthorne (which has since been partially painted over, unfortunately). The RACC description:

This mural represents many of my favorite aspects about Portland and Oregon, but is collectively a quilt representing our independent spirit, our vibrant attitude and tremendous pride we all carry as Oregonians.

If the title sounds vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of "From Oregon With Love"/"Oregon kara ai", a 1980s-1990s Japanese TV drama set in Central Oregon. Some sort of corny heartwarming thing about an orphan from Japan who comes to live with his aunt and uncle in America. YouTube has part of a 1992 episode in which the now-teenage kid tries his hand at logging and driving a semi. I'm not actually recommending it, but here it is:

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Tango Berretín mural

The next mural up is on SE Foster again, this time at the Tango Berretín dance studio at SE 63rd & Foster. The mural on the building was created in 2010 by artist Remedios Rapoport. (A short video of the mural being painted is on Vimeo here.) Its RACC description:

Tango Berretín is one of the only all-Argentine tango studios in the US and exists not only to teach the dance, but doubles as a cultural museum. Argentine filete, an art style native to Buenos Aires, and Argentine tango are culturally inseparable. The idea of this mural is to showcase this connection. Also, as both art forms are descendant from European traditions, and as the Foster-Powell neighborhood becomes more culturally diverse with many European immigrants, it seeks to embody the essence of the community. The mural with tango dancers’ feet on the dance floor and a bandoneón—an accordion-like instrument—playing tango shows what is happening inside the building. The colors and faux Buenos Aires look will create an enjoyable cultural exchange within the neighborhood by putting the vision out for all to see.

Pal-Do Market mural

The next mural up is the Pal-Do Market mural, outside of the eponymous Korean market at SE 61st & Foster. The RACC description:

This mural, located on a popular Korean market, is the first mural in Portland designed specifically on behalf of the Korean community. The artist, Una Kim, chose the image of a dragon because it is a powerful and positive symbol of good luck in Eastern art. Recognizing the role public art can have in recognizing specific communities, Kim sought out artists from differing minority groups residing in the surrounding neighborhood to complete small vignettes on the dragon using text and images to represent their cultures. She also invited a graffiti artist to contribute an element of street art to the mural.

The artist is a professor at Portland State, and she also created the Alive mural on SW 2nd, on the back side of Keller Auditorium.

Bridgetown Aikido mural

The next stop on the mural tour is at the Bridgetown Aikido building at NE 28th & Flanders, where we find a "monkey king" design created by Portland artists Jessie Weitzel & Brianna Farina. The RACC's old, defunct Murals of Portland website said there was a mural here, so I came looking for it, but I gather that one was replaced by the current mural at some point, since the listed artists are different.

Jolly Roger Skull mural

A while back I was putting together a post about the big Arch Angel mural at SE 12th & Madison, and noticed a brief aside in a writeup about it by Meggs, one of its co-creators: "Also had extra time to Jam with Gage Hamilton on a quick Skull piece on the side of the Jolly Roger Dive Bar, opposite the main mural!" (links added by me, btw.) I completely didn't notice this skull at the time. I would have noticed if only I'd turned around and looked behind me when taking Arch Angel photos. But I didn't, so I had to make another trip to go find it. And voila, here it is.

Giant Rabbit mural, NE Alberta

The mural tour is visiting NE Alberta again, and this time we're taking a look at the ginormous rabbit mural on the side of a building between 18th & 19th. This was painted by LA-based Brazilian artist Mateu Velasco for the 2014 Forest for the Trees event.

Given the subject matter, I have to put in a plug for an old blog post of mine about the movie "Night of the Lepus", a not-very-scary 70s monster movie starring DeForrest Kelley (Star Trek's Dr. McCoy). This was from the short period of time when I thought this might evolve into a blog about bad movies. Eventually I realized that writing about bad movies was a lot of work, or at least I made it into a lot of work, and this humble blog eventually morphed into today's photos-of-stuff format. The current all-mural thing is not a permanent feature of this blog, by the way; it's just the current project, which turned out to be a bit larger than anticipated. Eventually I'll move on and do something else, though I'm not sure yet what that might be. Maybe historic buildings or something like that. Dunno.

Lost Cause mural, SE 34th & Belmont

The next mural up is another Forest tor the Trees one, located on SE Belmont just east of 34th, at the far end of a parking lot facing Belmont. This was painted by The Lost Cause for last year's edition of the Forest for the Trees festival. The 2015 edition is coming up in a few weeks, with a whole new batch of murals to cover. I still have several unfinished posts about previous years' murals sitting around in Drafts. Hopefully I'll have those done & dusted before the new batch arrives, but you never know.

Dragon, SE Alder

Next mural up is this whatzit on the D&J Imports building on SE Alder, between 11th & 12th. wiredforsound32 says it's a dragon, and was painted by Klutch (who also did the large mural at Buckman Field). I think it looks more like a firebreathing Left Shark, but what do I know?

Nectar Cafe mural

The ongoing mural tour takes us back to the Hollywood district again. A few weeks ago we visited the Velo Cult mural, which faces a parking lot near NE 41st & Hancock. The same parking lot is also home to the smaller mural shown here, on the back of the Nectar Cafe, an artsy/healthy neighborhood coffee place. The mural's signed "Notes", which is basically impossible to Google (or Bing, if you prefer). Luckily the cafe's Facebook page had a couple of photos of the mural being painted, back in October 2013, and the captions explain that it was painted by artist Derek "Notes" Leitch. If I was in a grumpy mood (which I'm not), I might complain about people choosing more distinctive artist nicknames, but hey, I managed to follow the breadcrumbs this time, and I actually kind of like a little detective work now and then.