Hanging around the Cully neighborhood in northeast Portland on a recent substitute teaching assignment had me enduring minor transportation calamities in the way of two trashed/flat bike tires (thanks for helping Cat Six Cycles), discovering that a record shop called Jump Jump exists in the neighborhood and the possibility that germy kids put the kybosh on my ability to digest birthday celebration chicken wings. It’s all par for the course I’d have to say and finding Bill Murray’s face immortalized in artistic expression, in triplicate no less, soothed my soul and made it somehow worth it.
Gracing the back of an apartment mail box container on NE Prescott Ave. was the Bill Murray Triptych. Amazingly I was able ride by it the first time without stopping to genuflect. I filed this phenomenon away and returned for a photo. The image seems to come from Murray’s quintessential role in the film Stripes. The art captures Murray in all his Zen comedic charm, smirk and swagger. It has the feel of a Warhol homage in its decal, spray paint and screen print. Where Warhol created art based on one named legends like Elvis and Marilyn, this unknown artist offers passersby a portrait of a man of the people. I’d be hard pressed to consider that the Postmaster General would be have a problem with apartment mailbox vandalism when one look at Bill Murray in any form makes people feel good and would cheer up even the most down and out stragglers who happen by.
The work is marred only by a fellow vandal who decided to join the fray. I have no problem with the sticker, subject matter or design. I’ve seen this sticker around and it seems a faint homage to Paul Stanley so maybe there’s a celebrity theme going on but I would have preferred to see the predominant piece of art given some space and not crowded out by a more colors and noise. Don’t mess with Bill Murray with your GOO GOO for God’s sake.
A triptych is really the way to go here. One Bill Murray would not have been enough yet any more than three would have thrown the universe off balance. I’m not sure everyone in the neighborhood knows who Bill Murray is but it’s a face and artwork that with one glance returns a sense of serene, comedic calm and possibly even enlightenment. It’s a generous offering of street art, taking it out of the normal confines of the art world and exhibiting it on the side of the road where fine art is rarely seen. I can only imagine how Bill Murray figured out that he could entertain the world, but I’m glad he did. Forget your troubles, stop, and look at Bill Murray.