Now Is The Time, The Time Is Now
A mural created in 1989 by Isaaka Shamsud-din, Charlotte Lewis, Kathy Pennington, Paul Odighizuwa, and five assisting students.
4008 NE MLK Blvd
Every neighborhood in Portland can boast of having at least a mural or two painted in its vicinity. Walls at parks, schools, and community centers are transformed into scenes which reflect the surrounding community. Metro murals range in size, shape, and sophistication, but one element binds them together. The public artworks in general are significantly more about the audience than the artist. They are essentially gifts to the particular community, highlighting a common sensibility, concern, or element of pride.
In Portland, the largest number of murals are located in the Northeast Neighborhoods, with many found along MLK Blvd. Largely, they illuminate African American experience, showcasing the culture's triumph in the face of adversity. Consider the one at 4008 NE MLK Blvd. The North side of the Irvington Covenant Church office building is filled with the mural Now Is The Time, The Time Is Now. The 69-foot mural brims with African-American figures, the most prominent being large, cental depiction of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Technically, the work is a melding of large, angular brush strokes in vivid pastels. The result is a sea of expressive faces and postures. Since 1989, the mural has beckoned a glance from passers-by to stop for a moment and consider the figures within the scene. The bodies show elation, anger, weariness, conviction, and pride. One of the most intriguing elements of the mural is a mother and daughter reading by candlelight. Historically, this scene most likely refers to times of slavery, when African Americans struggled for the opportunity to educate themselves. It is poignant in many ways. Most simply, the image marks a moment in time, and consequently illustrates that our society has indeed progressed.
Within the same mural however, the audience is reminded how far we still have to go. Scenes of protest within the mural are still quite valid today. Marching masses hold signs that say, "Our Children Need A Quality Education, or Freedom Now." Unfortunately, these sentiments still hold weight, even 12 years after the mural was fresh on the walls. Perhaps 12 years from now Now Is The Time, The Time Is Now will only be a symbol from a era gone by.