The Buckman Mural, Branch Library Ornamentation, and some tree bark

I have been painting. I now have five (5!) paintings of the East Portland Branch Library,  but nothing new worth showing yet (if ever). I have notions about painting a much bigger canvas dealing with the library, but notions are too airy to coalesce if exposed to blogging. And so…

On my way to Alder and 11th to paint, I always pass the Buckman Mural on the side of the Plaid Pantry.  It’s looking better and better:


This mural somehow passed Portland’s interim rules for murals. Draconian rules were installed after an advertising company got called out for its blinking neon signs and claimed that, legally, they were nothing more than murals. The City Commission forbade all such activities but the outcry made them reconsider, so they then drafted something that insisted that big signs be “art.” Apparently that didn’t go over well either, so they’ve made further concessions to “Bidness” (as they say in Texas). In the meantime, however, the Buckman Neighborhood snuck a real mural-as-art into the system where it’s been grandfathered in. It’s been sketched on the wall for a couple of years, in various states of painted completion, but I see now the artist is down to adding humans to the scene. Joe Cotter is the artist and here’s a set of nice photos to check out the artist and earlier stages.

Beyond (diagonally behind) the mural/Plaid Pantry is that East Portland Branch Public Library that I’ve been working plein air. Here’s a bit of ornamentation that decorates the window boxes under each of the old library windows.

MiscLibraryWindowBoxI’m a sucker for these kinds of things. The cement is soft and wearing in places and the windows have been cut into parts by the division of the room horizontally to make two floors, but the window boxes are still kept up. The building was designed by A.E.Doyle, who designed the downtown Public Library, and will be 100 years old in 2011. I figure by that time, I may have finished this series.

Oh yes, here’s a classic Portland sight:

miscBikeWindowLibWThat bicycle is inside the room, leaning against the glass while sitting on the “new” flooring which truncates the window glass. The leaves are reflected from the trees outside — horse chestnut trees in this case.  I like imagining this building as full of people who ride bikes to work, but in fact, I saw one of them loading batches of stuff into a Zip Car and another on a little red motor scooter which matched her helmet.

Today was the last day I’ll spend looking at the Library as I paint it — the rest is to be done in the studio. I’m going to miss the place. I got to know a number of the workers there — they kept an eye on me and would wander out occasionally, just to check on the progress.  If I ever get any painting from those days that is worth showing, I might have to go back with it. They invited me in often enough. –June

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