Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cyclone Bicycle Supply mural

One odd thing I've noticed during this mural project is that Portland bike shops are very likely to have murals outside. I'm not sure why exactly, and it's not like I've run the numbers and have an exact percentage to give you, but it's more common than just about any other sort of business, with the possible exception of tattoo places. Today's example is at Cyclone Bicycle Supply, at 21st & Vaughn in a weird corner of industrial NW Portland. I ran across this one in a Bike Portland article while searching for an entirely different bike mural. The article lists a few of those, and mentions the mural was created in 2012 by artists Jeremy Eaton and Nick Makanna.

The "Go By Bike" sign in the mural is a play on the "Go By Train" neon sign that's long graced Portland's Union Station, and the "Go By Streetcar" sign that's been in the Pearl District since the early 2000s. I could swear I've seen a real, live "Go By Bike" sign somewhere around town, but for the life of me I can't recall where I saw it. It's possible it wasn't real after all and was just a detail in another bike mural. It all gets to be a big blur after a while.

Updated: Apparently the "Go By Bike" sign is at the massive bike corral next to the South Waterfront aerial tram station. Thanks to gl in the comments below and @WookieOfDoom on Twitter for pointing this out. Another commenter mentions there's also a "Go By Cab" sign at Radio Cab in NW Portland. At this rate I have to assume there's a "Go By Enormous SUV" sign somewhere in darkest Tualatin.


The next mural on the agenda is Pranayama, located outside the Yoga Union building at SE 50th & Lincoln, created in 2007 by Dana Lynn Louis. The brief RACC description:

Earth tones and natural shades of red, greens, and blues are used in a diptych portraying a set of abstract yin/yang flower vases reflective of the yoga practiced within the building walls. Local artists and residents participated in its construction.

I am not a yoga person, so I had to google the title of the mural. Wikipedia says "Pranayama" has something to do with yoga-style breathing and related mystical concepts. I think. Although (as a non-yoga person) I'm left scratching my head after reading the article a couple of times. The artist's website gives an alternate title of Unification, in any event.

The yoga studio's website says they're moving to a new building in July 2015, so the mural may or may not stick around after that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SE 9th & Stark mural

The next mural on the tour is another Forest for the Trees one, a geometric design created by Brazilian artist Marcelo Macedo for the festival's 2013 edition. This one was hard to find; it's down a sorta-alley on SE Stark between 9th & 10th, next to a sketchy Multnomah County corrections building. The alley's blocked off by a chain link fence, and you can't see a lot of the mural due to various things parked in front of it. A photo of it at the site for Honolulu's similar Pow Wow Hawaii festival provides a better look at it than my photos do, if you're curious. The fact that I couldn't see an artsy mural because there was a defunct food cart blocking it sounds like a lame joke from the #PortlandProblems hashtag, but seriously, this is exactly what happened.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


The next art whatzit we're taking a look at is Dekumstruction, at NE Dekum St. & Durham Ave., right outside Breakside Brewing, and just down the street from Woodlawn Park. This is public art that doubles as a bike rack for a brewpub, and triples as a stormwater management device. It's hard to dream up a more Portlandia thing than this, and naturally it's won all sorts of national awards. The artists' statement from their website:

Dekumstruction is a sculptural artwork installed on top of a custom bike rack, also designed by artists Peg Butler and Buster Simpson. The art installation works as an overhead shelter for the bike rack and uses materials and imagery related to petroleum. Twenty halved oil barrels that serve as planters represent the culture of big oil and reconnect the petroleum product with the earth. The barrels also receives roof water from an adjacent building which is fed through the planter to a downspout that flows onto an upended oil barrel, beating the drum during rainy days. The installation relates to shifting attitudes about energy, consumption, and stormwater management.

Simpson also created Host Analog, the slowly-decaying log installation outside the Oregon Convention Center.

Jeffrey Weston Rose

Our next Weston rose is the Jeffrey Weston Rose, on the old Portland Bottling Co. Building in the 1300 block of NE Couch. Going by the name this is probably another one named for a family member, but that's all I know.

Tiffany Weston Rose, Sandy Plaza

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour is the Tiffany Weston Rose, on the Art Deco Sandy Plaza Building at NE 18th & Sandy. This is the second rose named after the owner/developer's daughter, the first being the circa-1994 Tiffany Weston Rose on the Tiffany Center in downtown Portland.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flowering Legacy of the Civil Rights Leaders

The next mural on our ongoing tour is Flowering Legacy of the Civil Rights Leaders, in the Brooklyn neighborhood on SE 13th at Powell. The RACC description:

The mural project was made by students from the Oregon Leadership Institute at Portland State University. It features a Portland Rose with petals showing the faces of civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Chief Joseph, Ceasar Chavez, and Mahatma Ghandi. Other images of freedom are also included in the mural.

To be perfectly honest, the faces-growing-out-of-roses thing looks a bit like a mad science experiment gone awry. I'm sure they meant well, though.

The winged figure on the left appears to be the statue atop the Victory Column in Berlin, a 19th century German war memorial. I imagine it's here as an "image of freedom" because a.) the column's located near the Brandenburg Gate, where the Berlin Wall once stood, and b.) Brooklyn was once a German immigrant neighborhood. At one time it even had streets with names like "Bismarck", although most of them were hastily renamed during World War I.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Neighborhood in Motion

The next mural on our tour is another "celebrate our neighborhood" design: A Neighborhood in Motion is in the Roseway neighborhood, at the fun six-way intersection of 72nd, Sandy, and Fremont. The mural's on the 72nd Ave. side of the Missing Link bike shop. This area may sound kind of familiar if you've been reading this blog for a while, since we've been here couple of times before on other quixotic wild goose chases, I mean, projects. The first time was in 2008 for the Roseway Parkway, the wide sorta-Park Blocks down the middle of 72nd north of Sandy. A couple of the photos above were taken from the parkway blocks, in fact. More recently, last May I stopped by for photos of the untitled Lee Kelly sculpture at the US Bank branch across the intersection at 72nd & Fremont, as well as the nearby painted intersection at 77th & Beech. For what it's worth, I've also been to the nearby Roseway Theater a few times, albeit without writing about it. Unfortunately I wasn't looking for murals on these previous visits, so I didn't clue in on this one, even though it takes up the entire side of a building. So I had to make another trip back, and I can't decide whether I'm being extremely thorough or extremely inefficient. If I ever decide to start a project on historic buildings, I'll probably have to make yet another trip here.

Anyway, the the RACC description of the mural has this to say:

This mural reflects the surrounding community, brought together by the mural process. A winding road with trucks and cars, a barbershop, grocers, soda jerk, war time workers, and unicyclist are among the many neighborhood images shown.

The website of one of the artists has more closeups of the mural. As I mentioned in another recent mural post, the drug store across the street still has a working soda fountain. I'm not sure why I keep mentioning that, other than that it's an odd anachronism that's somehow survived into the 21st century. But then, a couple of downtown Portland buildings still have manual elevators, and they employ people to operate them. Or at least they did as recently as 2012.

Mary Stephens Rose

The next Weston rose we're looking at is the Mary Stephens Rose, on the side of an otherwise nondescript building in the 2000 block of NE Broadway. I'm not sure who this rose is named for, which makes for a very short blog post this time around.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SE 45th & Henderson

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One of the more dubious ongoing projects here at this humble blog involves tracking down places on a weird list I ran across in the city archives. Some of these places are obscure city parks, while others are various landscaped bits that the parks bureau had a hand in designing or maintaining at one time. And then there are a few that I can't quite figure out, like today's installment. We're on SE Henderson St. at 45th Avenue, on a hillside a bit east of the swanky Eastmoreland neighborhood. The city's official neighborhood map says we're in a long, skinny part of the Woodstock neighborhood, between Eastmoreland and the far less upscale Brentwood-Darlington area. I'm describing this at length because this whole area was a blank spot on my mental map of the city, and I'm fairly sure I'd never been here before I came looking for the subject of this post.

The aforementioned hillside is the reason we're here, as it turns out; when the houses along this stretch of Henderson were built, the developers put a divider down the middle of the street such that the westbound lane is maybe 3-5 feet above the eastbound lane. I suppose this way yards and driveways on either side of the street don't have to be as steep. As far as I can tell, the divider is the reason this street is on the list. The divider is just solid concrete, without any landscaping or anything decorative, so I'm not sure what the Parks Bureau would have had to do with the place, but the list says they were involved somehow, so I went to take a look. An imaginative and unsupervised child could probably find something fun to do here, but calling it a park would be a real stretch. Maybe the bureau shrugged and said they couldn't work with this place, or they came back with a budget-busting landscaping plan that wasn't adopted, or something like that. I suppose that would still count as "involvement", if you defined the word broadly enough.

Monday, January 19, 2015


If you drive or ride along NE Sandy at night, you might have noticed the tall glowing spiky thing in front of the old fire station at 56th Ave. Portland fire stations often have a bit of public art on display, often thanks to "1% For Art" money from when stations receive seismic upgrades. I'm not sure whether that was the case here. In any event, today's post pays a visit to Araminta - Carrying People to Safety by James M. Harrison. The RACC description:

Araminta was Harriet Tubman's given name at birth. The piece is designed to be a light beacon and to inspire our better nature -- to remind us that we should be strong rather than fearful in moments of crisis.

I'm not sure I'm sold on how Harriet Tubman, firefighting, and abstract art are all interconnected, but hey.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bell Circles II

A couple of earlier posts here talked about the pair of bells in front of the Oregon Convention Center, donated by Portland's sister cities of Sapporo, Japan, and Ulsan, South Korea. I mentioned there was also an acoustic art installation connected to the bells: Bell Circles II is an automated system that rings the bells every so often. Signs simply say the bells ring without warning, but they allegedly operate on a set schedule. Supposedly the Sapporo bell rings hourly, while the Ulsan bell rings on a schedule that evolves over time and resets on each solstice and equinox.. I say "allegedly" and "supposedly" because I was at the Convention Center recently and I had the idea of filming the Sapporo bell ringing. I'd checked YouTube and couldn't find any video of either of the bells ringing, so it seemed like this would fill an important cultural gap or something. So I started filming just before the top of the hour, and kept filming for four minutes, and came away with a boring video of the bell just sitting there, doing nothing. Later it occurred to me that "hourly" doesn't necessarily mean "at the top of the hour". Still, I feel like I've made a good faith effort to record the bell doing its thing, and I don't really feel like going back and hanging around for an hour or more to see if it ever actually rings. So I'm just going to go with the video clip I already have, and imagine that the bell's playing a famous John Cage piece. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Solar Flare

The next mural on our ongoing tour is on SE Ankeny, right next to the Giant Snail mural we just saw, and it may or may not be titled Solar Flare. It's hard to be sure because even though it's a recent mural, the artist's website is down (and doesn't have it), and the Twitter handle listed on the mural seems to belong to someone else entirely. I did run across a Facebook profile of an artist with the right name, but I don't know if it's the same person or not. In short, I don't know a lot about this one.

I actually didn't realize this was a separate mural at first, and somehow only got one photo showing this part of the wall the first time I visited. So I had to make a special trip back to get a few photos of this mural. Well, this and a sort of graffiti skeleton design on a nearby garage, which seems to have been painted over already. I've gotten used to that. Unlike traditional public art, which in theory sticks around forever, off the top of my head I only know of a handful of murals that have been around longer than a decade. Before the early 1990s there weren't a lot of them to begin with, and generally speaking they're more likely to be painted over than restored. Sometimes a mural's host building is demolished, and I've never heard of a mural being salvaged when a building here is torn down. That's happened before in New York, or maybe it was in the UK somewhere; a doomed building was home to a Banksy, so when the building was leveled, the mural was rescued at the behest of a well-heeled art collector, or maybe it was an art dealer. I'm hazy on some of the details, but in any case we have no (known) Banksys here, nor has any local street artist achieved that same level of global fame, so when a building goes, anything painted on it goes too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Melvin Weston Rose

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour of Weston roses is the Melvin Weston Rose, located on the big U-Store self-storage complex next to I-84, just east of the 28th Ave. overpass. These photos were taken from the overpass, and I'm not really sure where else you can get a good look at this rose, as large as it is. Maybe from a moving vehicle on the freeway, and maybe if you're right up next to it in the middle of the storage complex. I'm not sure who this rose is named for, but I imagine it's a family member, just going by the name.

A Vintage Portland post explains that this complex was once home to the Doernbecher Furniture manufacturing plant. (In fact there's a Doernbecher Rose elsewhere on the building, but I think it's only visible from I-84/MAX, and I don't have photos of it yet.) Wood for the plant came from the company's own sawmill, which was located at Coalca Landing, at the Willamette Narrows south of Oregon City. The site is now an obscure state park, with river access, some concrete ruins from the old sawmill, and views of the once-famous Coalca Pillar, Oregon's vey own balancing rock. The park is worth a visit, if you can find it (and my post about the place explains how).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Giant Snail mural, SE Ankeny

The next mural on our ongoing tour is a Giant Snail mural by Hunter Armstrong, located on SE Ankeny between 22nd & 24th. Strictly speaking it's on the back of a building that faces Burnside, but you can only see it from Ankeny. It's one of two large and brightly colored murals at this spot, the other being Solar Flare, about which a post is coming. Wiredforsound23 (whose Flickr photos lead me to a lot of murals I wouldn't know about otherwise) calls this one At a Snail's Pace, but the artist doesn't seem to use that name on his own photos of it, so I dunno. In any case, here's a short video of the snail mural being painted, if you're curious how these things come together.

When I stopped by to take these photos, a couple of guys with leafblowers were clearing the parking lot in front of the murals. They seemed confused and a little suspicious of this random guy walking up with a camera taking photos. I tried to reassure them that I was just taking photos of the murals and not of them, and explained I ran a website about art and assorted Portland stuff, which is more or less what this blog is about right now. I think that upgraded me from suspicious to merely weird in their eyes because they went back to blowing leaves. Later I made sure I didn't have any identifying photos of the guys, since I have no desire to get anyone deported. Not even leafblower guys, as much as I hate leafblowers.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Douglas Building Roses

A number of recent posts here have been about Weston roses, which are paintings (or sometimes printed photos) of roses on buildings owned by a local real estate tycoon. (See this earlier post for more backstory, if you're curious.) If you've been reading these, you might have noticed I keep linking to the Portland Roses Tumblr, which is someone's site about paintings of roses around Portland and sometimes further afield. The lion's share of posts are about Weston roses, but the genre isn't completely monopolized by one rich guy. This post is about one of the exceptions.

The historic Douglas Building, at SE 35th & Hawthorne, is home to a pair of semi-abstract roses. As far as I know, they only appear on the Portland Roses Google Map & didn't merit Tumblr posts of their own, which made them harder to find when I went looking for them. I only have photos of the rose on the west side of the building, facing 35th; the other one is on the east side of the building, and as I recall it looks identical to this one. There's also a similar pair of roses on another building further east at 48th & Hawthorne, but that's a separate post. Because rules or something.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


The next mural we're taking a look at is in sort of a weird location. Tapestry covers a long, low retaining wall along the back of the Barbur Transit Center, next to the path leading to the footbridge over Interstate 5. It's not visible at all from SW Barbur or the transit center itself; you can glimpse it from I-5, though, and you can't miss it if you're walking or biking over the footbridge. The RACC description of Tapestry explains that this is exactly the viewing experience artists John Early and Laura Bender intended:

The mural is about movement, energized by color relationships and crisp patterns. Along the course of a slowly curving wall, a tapestry of improvisations unfurl in a music-like progression. The mural is meant to be experienced on the move; walking, biking, or driving along. The series of stenciled shapes and overlapping patterns that are used are derived from various cultural and natural sources.

The artists' website includes a clever Flash animation that tries to give internet viewers a taste of the intended motion experience.

Martin and Grace Johanson Rose

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour is the Martin & Grace Johanson Rose, on the NW corner of the Rose Festival warehouse on NE 12th, near the Buckman Field tennis center. The larger Keith Vernon Rose is on the SW corner of the same building. This rose is painted on a panel rather than directly on the building, which turned out to be a bit of foresight: The rose used to be located on the Duniway Plaza building at SW 4th & Caruthers, just south of downtown. Weston roses usually get painted over when a building is sold, but in this case they apparently just popped it off the wall and hauled it away to its current home. The Tribune's 2008 article about Weston roses explains that this one is named for a couple who young Joe Weston delivered the Oregon Journal to back in the 1950s.

As a tangent, here's the story of a different, unbuilt Duniway Plaza building, which would have been a condo tower where the now-vacant YMCA building stands next to Duniway Park. Although the story is more about an eager young architect's journey into cynicism/wisdom, thanks to one flaky client after another.

Keith Vernon Rose

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour (assuming you aren't sick of them yet) is the Keith Vernon Rose, on the SW corner of the giant Rose Festival warehouse at NE 12th & Davis. I'm not absolutely sure, but I think this one's named for a property manager for the Weston real estate empire.

Like a lot of the most recent roses, this is not a painting but a photo, printed and applied to the wall. This is a distinction that actually matters a lot under Portland's convoluted sign vs. mural regulations. My understanding is that the city's more inclined to see something as a sign (and not a mural) if it's printed and applied vs. painted in place. But I also have a vague recollection that there have been various things painted at this spot over the years and it may be grandfathered in, regardless of what the current material happens to be. (The usual disclaimers apply about me not being a lawyer, much less your lawyer, so don't blame me if the city comes and paints over your fancy decals.)

Ken Gephart Rose

The next Weston rose on the agenda is the Ken Gephart Rose, on the Willamette Park Plaza building, at SW Macadam & Nebraska. This is right next to Willamette Park and sort of across the street from the McMenamins Fulton Pub, the ancestral home of Nebraska Bitter (which is named after the street). I'm telling you all of this because I'm not sure who this one's named for. I found a few 1980s news articles (like this 1981 Popular Science article, and this Christian Science Monitor piece) mentioning a Portland-area architect or designer with the right name, but I don't know if it's the same guy or not.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Take Flight

Our next stop on the ongoing mural project is in the middle of the Pearl District. The Pearl as a whole isn't home to a lot of murals. It's full of shiny new condo towers these days, and no self-respecting condo HOA would ever let someone paint on their building. The very idea is laughable. The south end of the Pearl is still home to some older buildings, though, many with big blank walls, and at least one has sprouted a mural recently. The Low Brow Lounge is a dive bar at NW 10th & Hoyt; I'm not sure how old it actually is, but it seems like a relic of the Pearl's old days as a blue-collar light industrial area, full of auto shops and plumbing supply stores and so forth. One wall is now home to the striking owl mural you see here. This is Take Flight, a new Ashley Montague mural painted in October 2014. I'm sure someday this block will become another cookie-cutter tower for the $500 pinot noir crowd, but until then there's at least a cool owl to look at, and the lounge reportedly fries a mean tater tot.

For those of you keeping score at home, I don't actually know whether Take Flight is an official title; wiredforsound23 on Flickr used that name, and he appears to generally know what he's talking about, street art-wise. So I'm going with that in the absence of anything more definitive, just because I need to call this post something.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Sam Bates Rose

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour is the Sam Bates Rose, in the Hollywood District on NE Hancock between 43rd & 44th. The 2008 Portland Tribune article about these roses mentions that this one honors the man who gave Joe Weston his first job, as a soda jerk. (Weston, of course, went on to fame and fortune as a local real estate mogul, and presumably owns the building that hosts this rose.)

Incidentally, the job of soda jerk is not entirely extinct in Portland. Sandy Boulevard hosts not one but two independent drug stores with soda fountains: Paulsen's here in the Hollywood district, and Fairley's further out in the Roseway neighborhood. I've never been to either one, but they sound like great places to take a nostalgic parent or grandparent. My dad occasionally laments not being able to find Green River soda, since apparently it was everywhere when he was a kid growing in the Midwest. I tried it once and didn't think it was anything special, but childhood tastes are like that. To wit, the bubble gum that came with Topps baseball cards in the 1970s was objectively terrible in all respects, absolute bottom of the barrel, no redeeming qualities. Roughly zero out of five dentists recommended it. But I still associate it with long summer vacations and walking with friends to the distant (and long-gone) corner store to load up on baseball cards and random candy, all with zero adult supervision. Sometimes we even rode bikes without helmets or safety pads or full-body bubble wrap or 24/7 GPS tracking. I will absolutely agree that the 70s were a dark and primitive time; it's just that there was an upside to it every so often.

Healing Moon

The next mural on our ongoing tour is Healing Moon, at the Mississippi Health Center on N. Albina Ave. This is actually the same building as the Albina Press coffee place, home to the Life Cycle of a Sunflower mural and another mural on the building's garage. I posted about both of those back in September, but at the time I didn't realize there was another one on the far side of the building. That's kind of embarrassing, but honestly there weren't any clues indicating I should go look at the other side of the building. I'm starting to think that overlooking semi-obvious stuff is just an unavoidable hazard of this particular project.

Anyway, Healing Moon was created in 2011 by artist Sheri Love Earnshaw, who also did the sunflower murals on the other side of the building, with the help of art students from Reynolds High School. Both murals are done as a series of panels on a common theme.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Marquam Building Flag Mural

In the previous post, I talked a bit about the Kathleen Gorman Rose mural, on the west side of the Marquam Plaza office building next to I-405, south of downtown Portland. The same building also has a mural on its east side, this one of a US flag and the words "United We Stand" (quotation marks included). I initially figured this was some sort of 9/11 thing, but later realized that Weston rose murals often include flags, and it's just that this time the flag is on the far side of the building.

So as far as I know it's not supposed to mean anything in particular beyond a general "Go USA!" sentiment. Although I admit the "United We Stand" phrase has always puzzled me. On the surface it seems really vague, almost devoid of meaning: Unity and determination, sure, but not with any particular goal or idea in mind. And yet it's enormously popular. It seemed like the default go-to patriotic phrase after 9/11, and back in 1992 it was the original name of Ross Perot's organization before it evolved into the "Reform Party".

It also shows up in more divisive contexts. I distinctly recall counterdemonstrators hollering the phrase at people protesting the start of the Iraq war, and it shows up (often misspelled) on Tea Party signs fairly often. So obviously it means something else entirely to certain demographics, and I've never quite cracked the code. It feels like a demand that people shut up and stop rocking the boat, or be excluded from the national "we". I doubt they realize how weird it sounds outside their little echo chamber.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Kathleen Gorman Rose

The next Weston rose mural on our mini-tour is the Kathleen Gorman Rose, located on the west side of the Marquam Building, part of the office complex between I-405 and SW Arthur St. just south of downtown. This is the same complex that's home to a groovy 70s fountain I posted about a couple of years back. A 2008 Tribune article about Weston roses explains that Kathleen Gorman was developer Joe Weston's eighth grade teacher, many years ago. Which seems like a really sweet gesture, regardless of what you think of these giant roses painted on buildings.

As a historical side note, this Marquam Building should not be confused with the infamous original 1891 Marquam Building at 6th & Morrison. It was a 10 story office block with a huge theater attached, and the whole thing appeared to be quite fancy. Unfortunately it turned out to have been built poorly out of cheap materials, and it collapsed in 1912 while being renovated. A news item in a contemporary issue of Architect and Engineer describes the circumstances of the collapse in greater detail, laying blame on the building's inferior bricks as well as on some of the modifications being made to the building. It leads with a rather snarky description of the building:

The building occupies one of the choice corners in the business section of the city, and in its time was considered a high class office building, but as Portland advanced from a sleepy overgrown village to a half grown city, the building became a home for quack doctors, and patent medicine fakers, and the element that generally follows in the wake of the above named professionals.

The Joyce Waddell Rose

The next Weston rose on our mini-tour is the Joyce Waddell Rose, located on the Ross Island Plaza, a small office building at SE Center St. & McLoughlin (although the street address says 8th Ave.). A 2008 Tribune article about Weston rose murals explains that this one is named in honor of Joe Weston's VP of accounting.

The weird thing about the location of this one is that I once lived just a few blocks due west of here for a couple of years back in the mid-90s, and I had no idea the Brooklyn neighborhood contained any office buildings until I went looking for this rose. The building does a great job of not drawing attention to itself. It looks like it might have a good view of the river from the top floor, though.

The Sarah Snow Rose

One of the few things I learned last year -- blogwise, I mean -- is that there's a hell of a lot of murals around Portland, once you start looking for them. There are enough of them that you start noticing distinct subgenres. One of the more distinctive subgenres is the collection of rose murals painted on office buildings around the metro area. These are the brainchild of local real estate magnate Joe Weston; apparently he just really likes roses, and has them painted on buildings he owns. Each rose comes with a caption dedicating it to a friend or family member, and sometimes the design includes a US flag too. You quickly realize they're all over the city, once you start looking for them. I think they just don't get a lot of attention because of their unhip subject matter, usually combined with unhip locations.

The Sarah Snow Rose covers the north side of the otherwise nondescript Capitol Plaza building on sorta-suburban SW Barbur a bit north of the big Capitol Highway / Taylors Ferry / I-5 interchange. (Note the door in the photos for scale.) I'm pretty sure this entire area qualifies as an unhip location. A 2008 Tribune article about the rose murals notes that Sarah Snow was Weston's former secretary.

Ochoco St. Bridge

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The next installment in the ongoing bridge project is yet another really obscure one. SE Ochoco St. runs right along the Sellwood-Milwaukie border, and it crosses Johnson Creek on the little bridge you see here. This isn't something that I would normally care about, but it got a mention in the state's 2013 historic bridge inventory, so I figured it might be worth a quick peek. Here's what they had to say about it:

Bridge Number  25B58
Year Built1947
Location:Near 21st Street in southeast Portland
Lat/Long:45 27 31, -122 38 31
Description:One 40-ft reinforced concrete rigid frame span
Designer:Geary Kimbrell for Portland City Engineer Ben S. Morrow
Builder:Johnson-Sterner Corporation
Significance:This bridge is significant as an intact example of a slabtype rigid frame structure, which is a rare type in Oregon. Designed by the city, it improved access to the Kellogg Park Housing Project, which had housed soldiers during WWII. As is common with Portland structures, the bridge features an unusual railing that adds to the appeal of the visually simple structure.
Character Defining Features:Decorative railing, Structure type

The only other photos I've found of this little bridge are in a big Word document full of photos of the area, focusing on the grounds of the giant Oregon Liquor Control Commission warehouse just east & south of here. Apparently they were involved in a late 1990s watershed restoration project for the bit of Johnson Creek that fronts on their property. I suppose pasting images into a Word document was the convenient way to share photos back then. Truly, it was a dark and primitive time.

Community Roots, SE 85th & Knapp

It's been a while since I've covered any City Repair painted intersections here. Generally speaking the close-in ones I know about have already appeared here, and the remaining ones are way off in St. Johns or east of 82nd, like today's installment. This is Community Roots, in the intersection of SE 85th & Knapp, a bit north of Flavel and Johnson Creek. In case it isn't clear from these photos, the design shows four trees of different colors, with their roots intertwined in the center of the intersection.

As with the intersection at NE 8th & Holland, this was funded by a Kickstarter, this time spearheaded by a local photographer. The project was funded in June 2013 and painted in July; here's video, a Flickr photoset, and a panorama of the July 2013 painting party.

Oregon Grape

So this is probably one of the more obscure public artworks I've covered here (so far). The Portland city parks bureau has a maintenance yard in outer SE Portland, at SE 89th & Flavel, next to the Springwater Trail. The facility was renovated back in 2012, and they decided to use their mandatory "2% For Art" budget on decorative gates to the yard. A design panel selected Oregon Grape, a striking design by Joe Larralde, a local tattoo artist. His description of the project:

This project was inspired by my background in Polynesian Tattooing. I used geometry to create flow and movement across the design. I chose to incorporate Oregon Grape leaves to relate the project to both the Parks and Recreation department and the City of Portland. I chose to show the leaves in their fall color of red, which provides good contrast and creates the palate of black and red, reminiscent of Native American artwork of the Pacific Northwest. Lastly I chose to incorporate Swift birds in flight, which are swallow like birds that migrate through our region in the fall.

Aaaaaaand.... Go!

In a recent post for this humble blog's 9th birthday, I mentioned something about having a vast number of draft posts waiting to be worked on. I've had the last couple of weeks off, and that already vast number has expanded a bit. As it stands now, it would be an unusually productive year, post-wise, if I just worked through what I already have in draft and did nothing else and took no new photos at all in 2015. This is quite an odd situation to be in, and I hope it doesn't backfire somehow.