Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Cheerful Tortoise Mural

The ongoing mural tour takes us to the Portland State campus again. Our last visit here (muralwise) took us to The Knowledge, a photorealistic piece celebrating the university library. Today's installment is a bit different: A few years ago the Cheerful Tortoise college/sports bar (which has been there as long as anyone can remember) was brightened up with a sports-themed mural that wraps around the building. Like many of the others we've visited lately, it's part of the city's kinda-public mural program, so it's legally public art, with an RACC database entry and everything. The RACC description is fairly brief:

The three mural images depict a variety of Northwest regional sports, united by color, texture and background. The murals depict portraits of Hall of Fame members from the Northwest, college athletes including Bill Walton and Steve Prefontaine, and the Portland State University mascot and other related university images.

The Tortoise was there when I was a student, circa 1990, and as I (vaguely) recall it hasn't changed since then, other than obvious things like flat screen TVs and a modern craft beer selection. It's possible they've changed the deep fryer oil at some point since 1990, but I wouldn't bet on it. We occasionally stop there for breakfast, since nothing pairs with bacon and eggs like a nice IPA. Trust me on this. At night it's a different story; we were dragged there by friends one time, and it was red Solo cups, Jager bombs, people going "woooo", etc., which is great if you're 22, or maybe 28 or so if you're still in grad school. Now, not so much. It's never a good idea to be the oldest person at the party, so we didn't stay long.

The mural got me wondering just how old the Tortoise is. The first time it shows up in the Oregonian is December 1961; apparently they sponsored a city-league amateur basketball team at the time, which defeated Nobby's 80-49, if I'm reading the score correctly. In any case, PSU has only been at its downtown location since the early 1950s, so the bar's been there almost as long as the university itself.

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