The weather has been less rainy than usual for November and because it’s going to get lots worse, I’ve been snatching every possible sunlit moment to do a bit of cityscape painting.
I painted on Friday and Monday with a buddy, up under the Fremont Bridge. But Saturday, the sun was also shining and so I went down to the corner of 14th and Hawthorne. I wanted to paint the row of funky shops and restaurants across from FISH and the Mercedes dealer, but when I got to the corner, I saw a bunch of kids in the parking lot across from that row, playing basketball.
The building on which the basketball hoop was affixed is one of the more unprepossessing ones around:
The building has been the home of various non-profits, had stood empty for a while, and now, apparently has been taken up by some group that includes kids and basketballs. I ran back home to get my camera, and while I was gone, the majority of the players had disappeared, leaving only a few behind.
But it was irresistible — I had to paint the building — and the players — even if they didn’t rise to the heights of the Eastside Funeral Director’s Headquarters. While I was concentrating on some other part of the scene, one of the kids managed a feat I’m still a bit amazed about:
An adult supervisor didn’t seem to feel sitting on the hoop was a bad idea, although it was hard to continue the game in any conventional way. Eventually, the human fly got down (I missed seeing how he managed it), and the group was gathered into cars with adults and away they went, leaving only the empty, unprepossessing parking lot.
But I had to know who or what was using the building, so while it was empty, I went around the end of the short front section, and there was the “front” door:
There’s always been a Lebanese/Turkish/middle eastern presence in this neighborhood. The very best hummous in Portland was made across the street until the owners retired, and there is still a Lebanese restaurant in that row of storefronts that I didn’t paint.
And when I looked more closely at the building, I realized that it wasn’t quite as plain as I had been thinking — if you glance back at the first photo, you might be able to make out the curved ornaments on the top of part of the building. And the green columns are simply decorative, an attempt to break up the stuccoed wall that faces the parking lot.
Jer says I made it look better in the painting than it does in reality. I think he just hasn’t looked closely enough at it. And certainly the energy and good vibes of those kids added to its charms. It felt a little desolate when they all went home. –June