Monday, January 04, 2016

Now is the Time, the Time is Now

Next up on the mural tour is Now is the Time, the Time is Now, at the Irvington Covenant Church at NE MLK & Shaver. This was created back in 1989 by artists Isaka Shamsud-Din, Paul Odighizuwa, Charlotte Lewis, and Kathy Pennington. The RACC description:

This mural was created as part of a neighborhood mural project designed to train and employ promising young artists, enhance the cityscape, foster a sense of community pride and aid in revitalization efforts in the area. ‘Now is the Time, the Time is Now’ is about education, the importance of history, the identity of the African American community and knowledge of where they came from.

The mural was created with a second companion mural on the south side of the building that was regrettably removed in fall 2009 due to necessary repair of the building.
From a 1989 Oregonian article about the then-new murals:
The first two of what Shamsud-Din hopes will be more than a dozen murals along King Boulevard were dedicated Dec. 18. They grace the north and south walls of the American Contractors Center owned by Bruce Broussard, who was the first "to take a chance on us," Shamsud-Din says.

The north-facing mural was designed and painted by Shamsud-Din. It features a large portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. surrounded by other faces, among them Nelson and Winnie Mandela, South African expatriate playwright Selaelo Maredi, and muslim leader Elijah Muhammad.

The south mural was painted by artists Kathy Pennington, Charlotte Lewis, and Paul Odighizuwa and depicts the progression of African heritage from ancient Egypt to contemporary children using computers.

Shamsud-Din hopes the project will become self-sufficient and eventually expand to other parts of the city. Similar projects in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have caused a reduction in graffiti and initiated a visible increase in civic pride in the neighborhoods.

"I wanted to start something that would give African-American artists in Portland some exposure," he says. "It would be a lot more fun here if it wasn't such a whites-only art club."

Note that Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned by South Africa's apartheid government when these murals went up, and many Western politicians still insisted he was some sort of scary Communist.

As of 2015 the south wall of the building was home to a simple blue sky design instead.

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