Personal Messages in Public Places

Dear Liza,

The other day while walking through Laurelhurst Park, we spotted this tree with a hand-written message taped to it. We wandered over to investigate.

It said “Flick and Clever Chris sorry I said mean things.”

Further along, we found a similar message taped to a trash can. “Flick and Clever Chris Sorry for treating you like trash. (Heart) U guys”. I can only imagine what lead to this public apology, but it might have gone like this.

During the summer, kids meet to play in the park. Maybe they are visiting in town or attend different schools, and know each other only from their play at the park. They have no way of reaching each other other than THERE. So, when disagreements happen, that is where apologies happen.

There are other instances, more adult in nature, where private feelings are expressed publicly. A series of STOP signs additions are mostly political, but give us the temperature of the neighborhood.

This stenciled graffiti on a nearby building appeared a few months into the shut down, and expressed my feelings exactly. “Take this enforced idleness to step away from the rush and do some healing.” I realize not everyone has that luxury, but being retired, I have the time.

That’s what I tried to do, and it helped.

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Day After BwiP Con

Dear Liza,

On Saturday, Books with Pictures was FULL of people for their first annual comic con. Hundreds of people came, shopped, drew, and had a great time. The day after, however, was another matter.

The bookshop was open, but the scene was quiet and peaceful. Auntie Bridgett was by to help clean some new graffiti off the mural.


Some kids made chalk art while their Momma shopped.

I filled up the watering cans and gave all the little live things a drink.

Amarette Gregor opened up her shop, Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts, and made lovely things.

And Auntie Katie finally got to read in the peace and quiet of her own garden.

I love Books with Pictures, whatever is happening!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art Outside

Dear Liza,

Portland is a very big city. There are 645,000 (that’s double Salinas), just in the city, with a few million more living in the suburbs and smaller surrounding towns. Many of those people are talented artists.

And there are only so many art galleries, museums, and shops. All the art just won’t fit inside.

So quite a bit of it is outside. This is great! You don’t have to pay to see it, or even go out of your way. It is right there on the way to store or whizzing by the bus window.

When I talk about Art Outside, I distinguish between street art, which takes planning, care and talent, and graffiti, which just takes a can of spray paint. Graffiti people, who call themselves “taggers” usually have a signature set of letters that they spray wherever they can reach, like a kid writing their name on the wall.

To me, this isn’t art. It is vandalism. People spend their time and money to cover up the graffiti, or wash it off. Art outside is a perfect reflection of people’s ability to make their world better, or worse.

Graffiti spoiling a Gary Hirsch mural

I love returning to a neighborhood after a few months and seeing a new mural. “How long has that been here? It’s so cool!”

And while you are here, we’ll see plenty.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Restoring the Mural

Dear Liza,

A few weeks ago, I told you about the mural at Auntie Katie’s comic shop, Books with Pictures. The mural, which was painted in 1997, had recently been tagged with ugly graffiti.

Fortunately, art is Auntie Bridgett’s super power. The first day it was warm enough to paint, she gathered her supplies, and we headed over.

She used a combination of Liquitex acrylics and house paint to mix just the right shades to cover the graffiti while keeping the picture looking great.

While Bridgett was mixing and painting, I went around the building to see local artist Alex Chiu working on a different mural on the new shed by where two new food trucks will be. He has finished the background, and will come back next week to add a painting of kids, comics and whimsical animals.

I visited Cousin Kestrel upstairs for a while, then went back down to see Bridgett’s progress.

I was amazed! In just a few hours, Bridgett had managed to cover most of the graffiti and the mural was looking almost back to its beautiful self.

But it was time to go home for today. We are expecting rain for the next few days, and we will go back to finish it up when the weather clears. I am so happy that Bridgett has been able to save this neighborhood landmark.

Love,

Grandma Judy