So there's a year-end tradition here (by which I mean the last couple of years) in which the year's final post is just a batch of Instagram cat photos from the previous 12 months. I figured I'd go ahead and do that again for 2015, since people never really get tired of cute cat photos. Incidentally, this post also brings me up to 186 posts for the year, which isn't a lot by recent standards, but it moves 2015 into an exact tie with 2012 and 2009. Apparently this is pattern that repeats every third year, for whatever reason. *shrugs* Anyway, Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Compass Junction, three berry-lined blocks from Cathedral Park, was first painted in 2009. Our Mariner's Mandala is a navigational aid, directing our gaze outward from the central compass to an Escher-like outer ring from which we see the Baltimore Woods Connectivity Corridor, the sparkling river that separates us from Forest Park, the titanic vessels that ply the working waters of the Willamette's North Reach, and the iconic green gothic arches of our beloved St. Johns Bridge, from which we can glimpse downtown, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on a clear day. This is The Crossroads.
We are on the Edge of Everything, and the edge is where the action is. Come look through our special window on the world for the day!
That description really captures why I have a soft spot for the whole painted intersection phenomenon. I'm an inveterate cynic (in case you hadn't noticed already), but there's a sense of goofy unironic optimism about the whole business that I just can't bring myself to sneer at; it would be like sneering at a box of puppies or something.
Next up on the painted intersection tour is "Jarrett Grove", at NE 28th & Jarrett. Like a number of the others I'm posting today, this is a recent one, first painted in summer 2015. The project description:
The Jarrett Grove intersection painting is the first of many natural building projects planned by the neighborhood. The community named the project Jarrett Grove as it is a celebration to pay homage to the amazing Douglas Fir trees, among many other evergreens, that fill the neighborhood. The trees are pointed in four different directions with faith houses at each base. The trees all stem from the same potent, lovely, and sacred geometry.
I'm no expert on "sacred geometry", but this design does look kind of familiar, as if we've seen a very similar design at some other intersection. I can't put my finger on which one, but it definitely rings a bell. In an early post in this series, I offered a few free ideas for intersection paintings, and I'd just like to toss them back out there for anyone who's got a city permit but needs a design. It's been almost 2 years and as far as I know nobody's used any of them so far, so you -- yes, you -- could be the first:
It's a shame there's nowhere to put one in my downtown neighborhood. All the streets around here are way too busy, and most of them have MAX or streetcar tracks running through them. It's a shame because I think I'd be pretty good at brainstorming designs. The moon, maybe, or a giant octopus, or a Deep Space Nine wormhole, or Pac-Man, or a crop circle, or maybe a Sarlacc pit, or a surreal Escher design to confuse passing motorists. Some of these might be a bit tough for amateur street painters to pull off in a weekend, though, and others might have trademark issues. Feel free to swipe any of these notions for your local intersection if you like though.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The next painted intersection on our tour is the Rainbow Dragon at NE 32nd & Sumner. This is another new one, first painted in summer 2015. The brief project description:
Dragons symbolize strength in many cultures. Slide down the Rainbow Dragon and feel the force of neighborhood community. Rainbow Dragon honors the strength of our friend and neighbor, Brook Irwin, who lost a five-year battle to cancer. Rainbow Dragon infuses a playfulness into the intersection. Forget the crosswalk, just skip across the street on the stepping stones and admire the brook below.
The design kind of takes me back to junior high in the early 1980s, when roughly half of all school supplies were plastered with some combination of rainbows, unicorns, and dragons. I say half because anything with a rainbow was strictly a girls' item for whatever reason, and I recall a lot of my school supplies having an epic space battle theme instead. I didn't mind that at the time, but in retrospect it's weird that I missed out on a lot of dragons because of a few rainbows and the anxieties of a strange decade.
Some time ago, I did a post about the "Community Blooming" painted intersection at NE 85th & Milton, near Rocky Butte. While putting the post together I discovered it was the southern half of a pair of intersections, so I put an item on my big todo list to visit the one at 85th & Beech the next time I was in the area. So I finally got around to it, but ended up with a couple of subpar photos. Someone was having a house party right next to the intersection, and people kept arriving, and I didn't want to be mistaken for an uninvited guest and either confronted or (maybe even worse) invited in. It sounds silly now as I try to explain it, but it felt like a reasonable concern at the time. It's an introvert thing, I guess.
The next painted intersection on our tour is "Jade's Jewel", at NE 61st & Tillamook. The project description has a weirdly downbeat tone:
Jade's Jewel reinvigorated the vibrant community around NE Tillamook and 61st Ave. The neighborhood used to have block parties, Christmas parties, Easter egg hunts, and a plethora of gatherings annually. However, the community has dwindled in the past few years and there have been illnesses and deaths impeding upon community building. So, the community was brought back together by painting the streets rockin' colors! The drawing is Sponge Bob Squarepants inspired!
Identifying the SpongeBob Squarepants connection is left as an exercise for the reader. Mostly because I don't see it. I've watched an embarrassingly large number of SpongeBob episodes thanks to the magic of Netflix, and I don't recall seeing this in any of them.
Ok, it's been a while since we've visited any of Portland's ever-increasing number of artsy painted intersections. I have a few more in Drafts, though, so I think I'll run through those and post them as a change of pace from all the murals. I suppose it's not a huge change of pace, but at least we'll be looking at horizontal painted surfaces instead of vertical ones for the next few posts.
Anyway, the next stop on the ongoing "intersection repair" tour is the North Tabor Mandala at NE 53rd & Everett. This is one of the newest ones, first painted in summer 2015. The City Repair page about it describes it:
North Tabor Neighborhood Association in conjunction with South East Uplift was overjoyed to bring an intersection mandala into the heart of the neighborhood. In the spirit of their long term goals to bring life, culture, and vibrancy to the community, they worked with the local Portland Montessori School, whose upper elementary school children produced a design of geometric shapes, angles, and patterns. With the help of a generous grant from South East Uplift, partnerships with neighborhood icons Folktime and Community of Christ Church, and - most importantly - the help of volunteers who call North Tabor home, something unique and beautiful was created to be enjoyed and celebrated by all for years to come.
For what it's worth, I tend to quote from City Repair pages instead of just linking because these pages have a nasty habit of vanishing when the next year's crop of projects rolls around.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Just a quick note that today is this humble blog's tenth birthday. I don't really have any remarks prepared; for various reasons it's been kind of an off year, blogwise, and I honestly hadn't given the big anniversary a lot of thought. As it turns out, this is also the 25th anniversary of the very first web page going online, so this blog's been around for 40% of the modern interwebs.
At this point I'm probably supposed to have nuggets of wisdom to share or something, but I can't think of anything off the top of my head. It certainly doesn't feel like it's been a decade, although when I first started this thing I still had dialup, had just bought my very first digital camera, and had just moved into downtown Portland from the wilds of westside suburbia. So I'm forced to admit this has been going on for a while now.
I'm not going to venture any predictions about a possible twentieth birthday. It would surprise me if Blogger and Flickr both exist in their current form a decade from now, since one's an increasingly neglected backwater of the vast Google empire, and the other currently belongs to Yahoo. It's also possible (even probable) that I might lose interest at some point without my hand being forced, or I might just get hit by a bus or something. So no promises on that point.
If I have time and get around to it, I may put together a list of personal favorite posts from the last decade. Seems like the least I can do, in lieu of having any pearls of wit or wisdom to pass along. It's just that there are close to 3000 posts to sort through, so this is going to take a bit of thought. I'll try to have something put together before New Years, unless work intervenes again.