Outside Art: The Art You Need Is Right Outside


Art displayed in the elements around North Portland is there for people to look at whenever they choose.  I prefer to celebrate the phenomenon of Outside art rather than offer explanations. Figuring it out takes time away from enjoying it. Art that could be on gallery walls or in the homes of people as decoration is now becoming part of the outdoor environment for all to appreciate. No color swatches to match or art openings to attend. Outside Art weathers critics, fans and pretensions to hang around fences and on houses. There is the risk of thievery and vandalism as well as the destructive forces of wind, rain, the occasional sun showers and even rainbow rays but this random art showcase of is inspirational through perseverance and its ability to skip the art world/business gamut to exist on its own merits.

House Painting

It’s a bold move to attach a large painting to one’s house. How do you get an abstract piece of art to work with certain colors of house paint? It’s tricky but it makes the declaration that creativity thrives in the home’s environment.

Por qué no? Por qué yes!

Outside Art is the perfect decoration for a business entrance. It creates authenticity. What’s authentic about it, I’m not sure. Let’s say it looks cool. It’s more of a rustic feeling, a shabby chic thing, perhaps. You won’t lose your appetite unless you look at it too long.

Mecca Art Land

The mecca of all Outside Art displays caught my attention last summer when I was out taking photos for future blog posts. It saw a couple of pieces nailed to telephone poles before I caught a glimpse of a section of fence with multiple works of art on it.

This was in the St. Johns area off of Willamette Boulevard and it has to be the work of a North Portland artist I had read about in the Oregonian right after moving to Portland. His name escapes me and his business card may still be floating around in everything that got packed up when I moved but I met him at one of his art shows a couple of years back. He was enthusiastic and willing to talk to me about Outside Art but soon after I suffered a bike accident which took me a summer to recover from. I never got back in touch with him.

This Outside Art display, which features many portraits, makes a statement that art can be a kind of living and dying organism that it doesn’t have to be locked away in a museum to be pickled and preserved forever. I appreciate it’s availability to anyone who happens by.

The Center of the Known Creative Universe: A Beacon of Outside Art

I wasn’t kidding when I felt a deep creative tremor emanating from outside of Mississippi Records that’s rooted to the center of the known creative universe. North Albina Avenue runs through this area and it’s rife with Outside Art displayed by businesses and residents alike. The Albina Press coffee shop boasts huge paintings on their side walls. A building the next block up seems to draw inspiration incorporating a mural on their side walls that gently morphs into huge painted panels.

Further up North Albina Avenue from the Mississippi District, a resident incorporated a couple of pieces of Outside Art with displays of expired license plates.

Even the dentist office on North Albina Avenue gets into the game displaying rudimentary Outside Art that’s more on the fun and frivolous side but it still meets with current Outside Art standards.

 

Outside Art: A Case Study

In the Woodlawn neighborhood I came across art hung on a fence. The work seems competent enough, yet marred by a canvas gash. The question remains whether the art became Outside Art after it was tarnished or if the damage resulted from it being displayed outside.

Tea and Artistry

In a back alley behind a Mississippi District Tea shop you’ll find paintings affixed to the fencing. These colorful, bold abstracts demonstrate that Outside Art can always be used to spruce up even the drabbest of surroundings.

 

 

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Self-Entertainment: The Only Year-End-Review You’ll Ever Need

How can be was.

While working on a recent blog post, a feeling of satisfaction and pure joy came over me. Was it a phrase I’d created, a well constructed sentence, an idea that hit me in support of my main idea? I don’t remember but it felt good and made me realize if nothing else, I had the ability to entertain myself. It doesn’t matter who or how many would read what I was writing. The numbers are fascinating but more importantly I was enjoying myself exploring this new world of self-entertainment. It’s something like a selfie maybe, a bit self-indulgent but creating something that, at the very least, entertains me. That’s about as much as I can hope for at this point.

By now the 2018 year end review has been done to death. It’s been list after list of people who died, news events, categories for best music and films, even weather events. Yet my list is the only necessary list. It’s been streamlined to subjects that deserve additional perspective.

Personality Non-Crisis

 

On the Wall of Fame

 

This year I got to know a bit more about a couple of Portland legends, in my mind anyway, that I had long wondered about. Both people worked with kids in a way. Evelyn Collins took care of kids in day care programs in a bygone era and had a passing resemblance to Mrs. Doubtfire while David “How Can Be” Chow has provided bar space for kids to sing karaoke. Rich Reece tipped me off to what inspired Chow’s advertising strategy and I became enthralled with the exploits of a third personality, Scott Thomason, especially the commercials he ran for his car business.

Stuck on Stickers

Goo Who?

What has keep me inspired about sticker culture specifically Skullz and the Goo Goo design is the never ending variety of the images and their placement. Sure they can be a nuisance but they add color and a bit of whimsy to places that need it like the backs of street “signz.” Besides it’s less polluting and more concentrated than other types of graffiti.

Skull Drudgery

 

Mysterious Pole Attachment

Rewarding Pole Art

Noticing this phenomenon and these objects replicating again and again in my neighborhood mystified me. Over-analyzing the situation and providing the public with a breaking news report provided no answers. But, what a mystery! This art form offers a subtle, streamlined design whose enigmatic meaning inspires debates. Then I began to notice so many of these objects—all over town. They’re simple, yet made out of common household items with an oddity factor and concept that should have me scratching my head well into 2019.

Still Antsy

I still feel like I’m trying to sort out some deep seeded feelings about graffiti every time I explore this topic.  I don’t know if I should analyze it, ignore it, appreciate it, come to terms with it or hate it? But this year I made an effort to seek out opinions and see through the eyes of others, not that this made my thoughts any less muddled, but this antithesis of art and street culture has me continuing my search for understanding.

Multiplying Rabbit Posts

Factory horizon

Rabbit Hill perplexed me. My initial post was lacking. It wouldn’t be hard to reach out to the Rabbit Hill folks for some background. There’s also an area organization called Rabbit Advocates who could shed light on the rabbit dumping phenomenon. Visiting the place with my head full of legend fueled expectations. The area had a mysterious vibe along with autonomous zone potential. It merits more answers from me, the one person interested enough to ask questions.

In Passing

No sooner was I making plans to move to SW Portland than two fixtures of Barbur Boulevard closed. Humdinger’s seemed like a family owned neighborhood burger joint on a busy road. It was decorated in bright primary colors. I can’t say anything about the food but I always considered the hamburger special and the smoothies but then I kept driving anyway.

My thoughts on these two closed restaurants revolves around my imaginings of what went on there. That’s not hard when you have the basic concept of a restaurant down. I never made the time or was willing to spend the money to experience these places. I was focused on getting home. I was told the Golden Touch had cool old school booths and that it was a haven for Lewis and Clark students. I constantly have to correct myself thinking the place was called The Golden Spoon. It was sad to see these institutions close this year. As 2018 itself has come to a close, let’s hope the new year is good for us all.