Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Turtle Place mural

A few days ago, I did a theme day here and posted about a bunch of murals around downtown Vancouver, WA. It turns out I had at least one more VanWa mural post in my ginormous Drafts folder, so I figured I ought to post it before the others scroll off the front page. Until fairly recently, downtown Vancouver had its own "transit mall" along 7th St., a smaller version of the one in downtown Portland. Like Portland's bus mall, it acquired a bad reputation for loitering, drug deals, homelessness, etc., and in 2007 C-Tran (the Clark County mass transit agency) closed the bus mall and sent the buses somewhere else (I'm not entirely sure where they went). So this left the city with an unused half-block parcel of land downtown, which they decided to turn into a tiny park called "Turtle Place". Apparently C-Tran still owns the land here, and the park is meant to be temporary, to be removed once a shiny new Bus Rapid Transit line comes to town Real Soon Now. In the interim, they've taken a few steps to spruce up the mini-part a bit: There are a couple of interpretive signs, some old not-quite-vintage signs left over from the bus mall, a big steampunk water feature, and the gigantic mural you see here. The mural's just called Turtle Place, and was painted in 2010 by Guy Drennan, who also created a couple of the other Vancouver murals we looked at the other day. At first sight I actually thought this was a billboard; it doesn't help that "Turtle Place" sounds like it might be an upscale subdivision, or maybe a nursing home or something. But no, it merely tells you where you are. I suppose this is still better than having an ugly blank wall to look at here.

Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord

If you've been following this humble blog's ongoing mural project, you might be wondering where I find all this stuff. Locating good sources is a fun part of any blog project, and I've found several over the course of this one: The RACC website lists many (but not all) of the ones that belong to their "public art easement" program. There's a Tumblr that covers Weston rose murals, and the Forest for the Trees website tends to list everything created for their annual festival. And then there's a guy whose Flickr handle is "wiredforsound23", who posts geotagged photos of all sorts of obscure stuff. The guy clearly knows a lot of people in the street art world, since he often includes a title and artist with his photos. Though I get the impression he sometimes invents a title on his own if a mural doesn't have one. In any case, the mural we're looking at now is one he says is called Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord, by Acid Wizard, on the second story of a building at NE 29th & Alberta. If the artist's name sounds familiar, he(?) also painted a similar wizard face next to the smoking cat mural on N. Mississippi. I have a feeling this wizard face may be on the no-permit side of the street art world, which is a fun legal distinction that only matters in Portland. These photos were taken a few months ago, and for all I know it's been painted over by now. For all I know, the entire building's been replaced with luxury apartments by now, because NE Alberta.

Canned Heat Glass mural

Next mural up is this giant robot battle at Canned Heat Glass, a glassblowing equipment shop at SE 10th & Taylor. The mural's clearly signed "OASIS", but my Google-fu isn't coming up with an artist website or Tumblr to point you at. It might be out there somewhere, swamped by spurious results for Oasis and Canned Heat, the bands. So if any artists out there are reading this, here's my occasional reminder that I'd love to link to you, but first I need to be able to find you. Adding a little URL or Twitter handle to a corner of your mural never hurt anyone, hint, hint.

442 mural

The next mural on the ongoing tour is this group of soccer players outside the 442 soccer bar / Bosnian restaurant at SE 18th & Hawthorne. I don't know anything else about this one, unfortunately.

Some might argue that it doesn't really count as a mural when a business decorates an outside wall. I tend to err on the side of including things in this ongoing project, unless something's just a logo or an ad. And I might include it even then, if it's interesting enough.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vancouver Brewery History mural

The next stop on today's VanWa mural tour is Brewery History, on a wall at Main St. & Evergreen Blvd. This was created by local artist Tamra Davisson for Vancouver's 2012 Summer of Murals event. The mural shows a few historic beer bottles from the city's erstwhile branch of the Lucky Lager empire and its various local predecessors. The mural's info page goes into this history further than I care to, and tracks all the corporate mergers and renamings over the years, up to 1985 when the Vancouver brewery closed its doors. The one interesting bit is that Star Brewing (one of the predecessor companies) briefly employed brewer Henry Weinhard before he moved on and started his own operation in Portland. During the 1990s there was a short-lived revival of the "Star Brewing" name, but that company was unrelated to the original one other than the name. I imagine I would have tried their products once or twice, but I have no specific memory of it. I've never heard anyone claim to miss them, or even remember them. At last report, circa 1996, they'd concluded they were done for in Portland, and were pulling up stakes to move to Phoenix where beer drinkers didn't know any better, I guess.

Kaiser Shipyard mural

Today's VanWa mural tour continues with Kaiser Shipyard at E. 7th & Main St. This was created by Ellen Clark for Vancouver's 2013 Summer of Murals. That page describes the design briefly:

In 1941 a beautiful morning begins with employees efficiently working on various phases of ship assembly. scaffolding and cranes stand high to assist progress of the finest ships built on the Columbia river. The SS Joseph N. Teal awaits loading. Built in ten days, the 10,500 ton Liberty ship is proudly launched from the Henry J. Kaiser Shipyard. Reference materials provided by Pat Jollota.

A 2013 Columbian article interviewed several local residents who had worked at Vancouver's Kaiser shipyard during World War II. As the article points out, for much of the war the shipyard produced amphibious landing ships and even small aircraft carriers, rather than the Liberty ship depicted here.

After Degas’ "Practicing at the Barre”

The next VanWa mural on today's tour is After Degas’ "Practicing at the Barre”, outside the Columbia Dance school at E. 17th & Broadway. As the name indicates, this mural was inspired by a famous Degas painting (now owned by the Met museum in NYC). The mural was painted in 2009 by Guy Drennan. Its Clark County mural page describes it briefly: "Clients like the Degas piece, and this illustrates what the building offers to students of dance. Painted with Kelly Hytrek."

Vancouver Farmers Market mural

Our next VanWa mural is one at 6th & Main St honoring the Vancouver Farmers Market. The market itself is held at Esther Short Park, a few blocks further west, so I'm not sure why they needed a mural about it at this spot, but hey. Anyway, it was painted for Vancouver's 2013 Summer of Murals by Travis Czekalski of the Portland-area duo Rather Severe. Their work has appeared here once before, a mural on NE Sandy created for the 2014 Forest for the Trees event. You can kind of see a family resemblance, though Vancover's mural is a bit less psychedelic, aside from the walking ear of corn.

Chkalov's Landing mural

The next VanWa mural on today's tour honors an episode in Vancouver aviation history. In June 1937, Soviet pilot Valery Chkalov made the first nonstop intercontinental flight over the north pole, starting in Moscow and landing at Vancouver's Pearson Field. This flight is now often forgotten in the US (except for Vancouver), but Chkalov remains a national hero in Russia, along the lines of Charles Lindbergh here. Chkalov's flight wasn't just a publicity stunt, either; modern airline flights between Europe and North America generally follow near-polar "great circle" routes (this being the shortest distance between two points on a sphere), so this pioneering effort turned out to be of great practical importance.

Vancouver remembers the event with a few commemorations around town. There's monument to Chkalov next to the airport, and a major road nearby is named in his honor. And then there's this giant mural downtown, at Main St. & Evergreen Blvd, which was created in 2008 by Guy Drennan and Linda Stanton. Unusually, one wing of Chkalov's ANT-25 extends out over the windows of an adjacent building.

Fort Vancouver mural, Main St.

Today I'm going to post another batch of murals from downtown Vancouver, WA. VanWa has a lot of murals around its downtown core, thanks in part to a group called the Clark County Mural Society. Apparently one of the things they do is an annual Summer of Murals, in which several new ones are painted around town, and prizes are awarded. The mural we're looking at right now depicts historic Fort Vancouver (which is just east of downtown, on the other side of I-5), and was painted for the 2014 Summer of Murals by Michael Feliz. It took third place overall, as well as the "People's Choice" award. It's located on the wall of a financial planning firm at the corner of 12th & Main St.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Share-It Square

The next painted intersection on our ongoing tour is Share-It Square, at SE 9th & Sherrett in Sellwood. (The name's a pun, see?) This is Portland's first and oldest painted intersection, dating all the way back to the late '90s. I described a bit of its history in my first post on City Repair intersections, about the one at SE 15th & Alder. Here's the relevant passage, so I don't have to repeat myself:

The first one was Share-It Square, the intersection of SE 9th & Sherrett (hence the name), down in the Sellwood neighborhood. As this was a strange new thing back in 1997, the neighborhood first had to convince the city that painting a lightly used residential intersection wouldn't be the apocalypse. The apocalypse didn't happen, and street graphics have multiplied since then.

Piazza di Wilbur

The next painted intersection we're visiting is Piazza di Wilbur, at N. Holman St. & Wilbur Ave. This one was created in 2012, sponsored by the Overlook neighborhood association. This was around the same time Overlook Feng Shui went in at the N. Concord/Failing/Melrose/Overlook intersection. A May 2012 Oregonian article mentions both intersections, and includes a short video clip about Piazza di Wilbur.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, I found what seems to be a project website, though it's private and members-only, for whatever reason. The piazza is also listed on "World-Wide Labyrinth Locator", thanks to the little maze in the middle. And someone's Prezi presentation about City Repair intersections describes the design as "some kind of vortex". Cryptic private website, mysterious maze/vortex in the middle of an intersection, suspiciously foreign-sounding name... Obviously there's some sort of fnord intricate conspiracy going on. Aliens and bigfoot and fluoride are almost certainly involved, if you ask me.

Community Blooming, NE 85th & Milton

The next painted intersection on our (very occasional) tour is Community Blooming, at N. 85th & Milton, out near Rocky Butte. It turns out there's another painted intersection just one block north at 85th & Beech, but I didn't realize that at the time, and I don't have photos of it yet. In any case, the two intersections were first painted in May 2014 (which was the subject of a short film), and received their first annual repainting just a couple of weeks ago.

Urban Garden mural

The large mural shown here is on the back of a building on NE MLK, between Mason & Shaver. I've seen it called "Urban Garden", but that's really all I know about it. These photos were taken from Garfield Ave, behind the building.

Main St. Day Spa mural, Vancouver WA

The ongoing mural tour heads back to central Vancouver, WA, near W. 20th & Main St., where a gap between a couple of buildings has been transformed into a twee little garden spot. There are a few benches, some flowers, and a large mural on the side of the Main St. Day Spa building. The Clark County Mural Society's mural map doesn't list anything north of 19th, so I don't know the story behind this one.

I suppose the map ends where it does because this area isn't considered part of downtown Vancouver. My VanWa geography is kind of hazy, but I gather the business district along this stretch of Main St. is called "Uptown Village", and the city's neighborhood office says Main is the line between the Arnada and Hough neighborhoods. So now you know as much as I do.

I have a sorta-theory that Portland's next hip (and hyped) area is going to be around the historic mini-downtown of one of the 'burbs. People are increasingly being priced out of Portland itself, and demand is such that whenever a new part of the city becomes "trendy" it instantly fills up with cookie cutter luxury apartments. So maybe it's time to ask which suburb gets to be the Brooklyn to Portland's Manhattan. Vancouver has to be a leading candidate, although it loses points for the commute into downtown Portland.

Bird mural, N. Williams Ave.

The next mural on the tour is on rapidly gentrifying N. Williams Ave., near Shaver. This large bird mural is on an outside wall of the TreeHouse Childrens Boutique. I like the style of this one; it's too bad I can't find any info on who created it.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Mini-Mozarts mural

Next mural up is outside the Mini-Mozarts preschool on Main St. in downtown Vancouver, WA. Unusually, the mural was crowdfunded back in 2011 with an Indiegogo campaign. The Indiegogo page says the painting was done by The Space Art Collective, an arts organization based nearby. Sadly, going by the group's social media accounts, they lost their space and went defunct just a few months after painting this mural.


The next mural on our ongoing tour is Expanse, on the Allport Editions building on NE Lawrence Ave., just south of Sandy. This mural was created by Seattle artist Mary Iverson for the 2014 Forest for the Trees event. The Allport Editions Facebook page includes a making-of video, if you're curious how something like this comes together.

(Regarding the weird address, Lawrence is a short diagonal street at the NW corner of the weird Laurelhurst street grid. It's more or less equivalent to 26th Ave, if you're trying to visualize where this is at.)

The Future Will Be Hairy

The next mural on our tour is The Future Will be Hairy, on the upper story of a building in the 2100 block of NE Sandy. It's another Forest for the Trees mural, from the inaugural 2013 festival. That Oregonian article has much better photos than mine; I wish I knew where they were taken from, since I couldn't find a better angle than what you see here. Anyway, the mural's a collaboration by three artists whose work has appeared here before: Zach Yarrington, who created the huge Everything is Everything in SE Portland; Gage Hamilton, who did the DeSoto Building mural for the 2014 Forest for the Trees; and Madsteez, who collaborated on the Clyde Drexler mural at SE 9th & Clay. A page at MadeByBand has the inevitable bunch of photos of the mural being painted. A thing I didn't realize until now is that the 2013 festival also featured a limited edition line of clothing & shoes. Apparently you could buy a "The Future Will Be Hairy" bow tie, or even custom Chuck Taylors. That sounds odd, but we're already putting our old airport carpet pattern on every imaginable consumer product, so it's a bit late to complain about some mural-themed high tops.

Rather Severe mural, NE Sandy

Next mural up is on the Pulse PDX building in the 3600 block of NE Sandy. This was painted by Portland duo Rather Severe for the 2014 Forest for the Trees event. It actually took me a while to find this one, despite the fact that it takes up a whole wall. I was walking from the west, and it's on an east-facing wall, so I didn't notice it at first. A couple of blocks further along, I decided it must've been painted over already & turned around, and there it was. This mural project's been going on for months now, and this still happens to me all the time.