This week's blog was written by polymer clay artist Laurel Swetnam of Sequels.
Artistic Portland abounds with art of all kinds - paintings and two dimensional wall hangings, ceramics and jewelry. When you buy a piece from Artistic Portland, you become the owner of a unique work or art made by a local artist. It feels great both because you get a fabulous piece of art and because you’re helping to support our local community of makers.
Public art is a different kettle of fish, belonging to no one, but enjoyed by everyone. When the sides of buildings become canvases or when old bikes become the framework for a wild collage of hubcaps and license plates, you just have to stop and let yourself enjoy the whimsy. Artistic Portland has its own little public art piece. Helen Hughart’s vibrant knitted piece in the middle of Artistic Portland’s store deservedly attracts attention as it brightens our interior and, we hope, entices pedestrians to check us out.
Public street art is a playful intervention, a conversation starter. When Artistic Portland Artist Karin Kaufman of Nadelwerk decorated the bike rack outside of Artistic Portland with crocheted butterflies, flowers and snails, many walkers stopped to look, touch, smile and talk to each other. (UPDATE: The City of Portland removed this decoration since it is city property and does not conform to code.)
It always makes me happy to think that a building owner has chosen to spiff up an otherwise boring space for all to see or that an artist took the initiative to make our world a little more colorful. It’s delightful when individuals - let’s say our inner artists- take the time to make a beautiful, ephemeral little work of art with no purpose other than the joy of sharing a creative impulse. My neighbor’s spontaneous front step sculpture of camellia blossoms was lovely.
My phone’s camera is full of wall paintings and quirky little front yard installations. I’m not alone! When I googled “Portland street art” I learned that there’s a 3.5 mile self-guided walking tour called the Portland Street Art Loop in inner southeast Portland. The loop laid out is bounded by Water Avenue to the west, 14th Avenue to the east, Ankeny Street to the north, and Madison Street to the south. The website suggests that Sunday is the best time to go, and it’s on my list. And there’s a festival just for Portland’s street art called the Forest for the Trees. When I researched one of my favorite murals, Fox and Bird located at SE 10th & Taylor, I learned that it was painted in August 2015 by Josh Keyes, for the annual Forest for the Trees mural event. It’s coming up soon, though the 2018 dates and locations haven’t yet been announced.
Hurray for street art! Let’s appreciate it and maybe make a little ourselves.