IT TOOK MORE than a decade for Portland to figure out what to do about murals. In 1998, crafty communications giant Clear Channel sued the city, arguing that the same rules that limited billboards should also limit public art. Legal and regulatory battles tied up Portland's mural artists for the next ten years, until the current, more artist-friendly rules were put in place in 2009. Over the last four years, murals have increasingly appeared on walls around the city—and this week those public murals are about to get a jolt of global energy.
Produced in collaboration with hotshot arts hub Pow! Wow! Hawaii, Forest for the Trees invited local and international artists to collaborate on murals at a handful of locations around town. The lineup is vibrant, an assortment of graffiti and street artists including Portlanders J. Shea and Blaine Fontana, Vancouver BC's Taka Sudo, and Melbourne's David "Meggs" Hooke. Work started on Monday, August 19, and will continue all week at locations including Gigantic Brewing Company, Studio 3, and ADX.
"Some businesses we were close with early on, others I just looked for good walls that fit the city's guidelines and called the owners," explains organizer Gage Hamilton. "We ended up finding some great local businesses that were very supportive of the project.
"The motivation was basically the desire to paint walls and to see some of our favorite artists paint walls in Portland," he continues. "Bringing contemporary art to the walls of Portland, and making that process as open and visible to the public as we can."
The painting blitz ends on Sunday, though community members are encouraged to drop by the mural sites all week to experience them as works-in-progress. To see all the murals in one gulp, Forest for the Trees is hosting a bike tour on Saturday, August 24, that takes off from Clever Cycles (900 SE Hawthorne) at 4 pm and winds its way to ADX (417 SE 11th). A closing night party—featuring live music and painting—caps off the event at White Owl Social Club (1305 SE 8th) on Sunday, August 25, at 9 pm.