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guerrilla crayon art

Guerrilla crayon art infiltrates northwest portland shopping district -- dozens flee for their lives!
PORTLAND, OR -- Early Monday night just over a half dozen signs were posted throughout the trendy shopping district known as "nob hill". The signs had crayons attached to them via rubber bands and invited passers-by to contribute their own pictures or text.

To read the full article, head over to earthjam.com (click on the "past" link, followed by the "crayon art" link).

And if you're headed to nob hill in the next few days, keep an eye out for one of the signs and feel free to contribute your own thoughts!

-- Josh

homepage: homepage: http://www.earthjam.com

some cool comments on the signs! 30.May.2001 09:01


(from earthjam)

@ the world is your canvas!
@ who said "public art" could only be appreciated passively?! make your own!!

@ go ahead -- nobody's watching!

@ pretend you're 3 again.

@ this (public) space intentionally left blank.

@ deface me.

@ pity he who takes this sign down, for he has no imagination!!

@ you wanted to be a painter.
instead you are a cashier.
make up for lost time.

(pictures to be posted in the near future)
the signs were then duct-taped to (mostly) telephone poles, a phone booth, and a advertising sign.

by that afternoon, five signs remained up, three were missing in action, and almost all of them had been fully covered.

a modest sampling of the scribbles:

@ nice crayons
@ seattle is fun

@ i don't like your tragic sighs

@ 4:20

@ (various "i love ..." or "... loves ...")

@ beautiful women walk around you all day long

@ beeping carts suck!

@ i love my hair

@ down with canada

@ do not write on this!

@ (miscellanous cat drawings)

@ love one another

@ skateoregon.com (with picture of skateboard)

@ let sleeping dogs be (with picture of dog in doghouse)

@ (picture of cat, shining sun, person)

@ "we're all going to die and that's o.k."

@ (stick figure of two people with one head)

@ blow me vera. love alice

@ (indecipherable japanese text)

@ i miss my pole

@ "give peace a chance"

@ fuck you! don't read this!

@ "if wishes were horses beggars would ride."

@ mike ragonese loves mike ragonese

@ do what thou will shall be the whole of the law ... love is the law, love under will -- crowley

@ i hate monkeys

@ quack quack quack all the way 2 victoria island

@ (picture of a penis) = penis

@ i guess so ...

@ (miscellanous other random drawings and scribbles)

interesting too is the fact that among those signs taken down the next day, many shared a pole with advertising signs (such as artists repertory theatre) that were _not_ taken down. what society is telling us is that commercial advertising is ok, but free expression is not.
later, as i watched people walk by one of the signs, it was interesting to note that even among those who noticed the sign there and slowed down briefly to look at it, none actually stopped to contribute to the open-air art.

it is as though we have become so used to doing only what others have told us to do, be it our bosses, our parents, or our peers, that when presented with an opportunity to do as we wish, we are truely at a loss.

bleak outlook perhaps, although as evidenced by the list of scrawlings above, it is obvious that not everyone is in such a mental prison of their own creation.

break free, make your own rules!!

WWeek Article 30.May.2001 15:17


From a past issue of wweek:


"After all, this is really just another form of graffiti...."

--Mayor Vera Katz on posters, The Oregonian, Monday, Nov. 13, 2000


Portland's mayor wages war on a growing urban menace: music
posters, diet ads and Haydn.


While McDowell
and PGE
spokesman Kregg
Arntson agree that
signs of the "lose
weight" variety
pose the biggest
aesthetic and
safety hazards,
guarantees prevent
the city from
between different
of signs.

The city will invest
$3,000 in the new
program, which
PGE, Pacific
Power and Qwest
will match. The
money will pay
Multnomah County
for the use of
community service
crews; utility
companies will
efforts with
volunteer squads.

McDowell urges
anyone with bright
ideas on resolving
the city's poster
crisis to
contact him:

Sidebar: Who Are These Lawless Rowdies

To hear some people tell it, we've got trouble, my friends. Right here
in River City. With a capital T. And that rhymes with P. And that
stands for...posters?

Last week, the head of Portland's anti-graffiti efforts announced a
pilot program aimed at stripping utility and telephone poles along
Portland's main pedestrian arteries of the chaotic collages of posters
that often jacket them. While some see this free-form propaganda
for upcoming rock shows, protests, yard sales and art happenings as
the pulse of cultural life, others--including Mayor Vera Katz--see it
as a nuisance at best, vandalism at worst.

Caught in the middle of the great cultural divide is Hugh McDowell
of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. McDowell, a conciliatory
gentleman, says the city has struck a deal with Multnomah County
and the utility companies that deliver communications and power
over the poles.

A new task force launched this month combines the poster-ripping
power of volunteer clean-up crews and juveniles working off
community-service sentences. McDowell isn't sure yet how
comprehensive the program, set to run for a yearlong trial, will be.
However, if it meets its goal, Portland's rockers, underground artists,
political rabble-rousers and would-be flea merchants will have to
look elsewhere for a primary means of advertising.

Portland's new crackdown is motivated by several factors. A
seldom-enforced ordinance forbids attaching posters to city-owned
utility poles. The city, however, owns only about 5 percent of the
thousands of poles within its boundaries, and it isn't clear how the
law affects poles owned by utility companies. Still, the ordinance
clearly tilts official attitudes against postering.

Utility companies claim that signs on poles, particularly hard
poster-board advertising signs from the beloved "LOSE WEIGHT IN
30 DAYS" genre, pose risks to their maintenance workers.
Worker-safety concerns also underpinned the arguments in favor of
Seattle's harsh anti-poster laws, adopted in 1994 and widely
blamed as a cause of the decline of that city's once-legendary music
scene. Last year, however, a pro-postering group called Free Speech
Seattle obtained statistics showing that the rate of injuries suffered
by Seattle City Light employees actually increased after the ban took

For most poster critics, the argument is more aesthetic. Many
neighborhood activists and merchants view fliers as a visual blight.
This isn't the first time the city has responded to such concerns by
going on the warpath.

"I think I spoke to a Willamette Week reporter about this very issue
12 years ago," says Mike King, a local graphic designer and poster

King and others involved with Portland's art and music scene say a
poster wipeout could potentially devastate the city's homegrown
culture. For small clubs, bands and galleries, fliers are the one and
only source of promotion, and even larger music venues rely on the
virtually free medium.

"It's huge for our shows, and huge for seeing what's going on," says
Jenna Sather of Crystal Ballroom, the classic West Burnside dance hall
that's part of the McMenamins bar, restaurant and music empire.
"More than that, it's a little piece of our scene's history, and it's great
to be able to look at old fliers and see what was going on at a given
time, and how things have evolved."

Beyond immediate threats to the local arts scene, King says
anti-postering efforts could hurt Portland's visual ecology over the
long term. "Poster art is ground zero of the design movement," he
says. "Everything filters up from there. Ten years ago you didn't see
all the distressed, messed-up, distorted graphics that you now see
on TV commercials. It all started on telephone poles."

While Katz's office equates this art form with graffiti (the official
term is "pole litter"), McDowell strikes a more even-handed note.
"It's a tough spot to be in, because I'm not unsympathetic to people
who want to poster," McDowell says. "Six months ago, the mayor
asked me to come up with something we could do, and this is what
we came up with."

McDowell hopes a viable compromise on postering can be worked
out even as the clean-up campaign takes shape, noting that some
cities have experimented with providing public kiosks as an
alternative target for posters.

However, if city leaders are looking northward for inspiration, they
should take heed of history. In Seattle, a kiosk program once talked
up by city council members never materialized, stifled by
bureaucratic inertia and a lack of funds.

Who Are These Lawless Rowdies?

"After all, this is really just another form of graffiti...."

--Mayor Vera Katz on posters, The Oregonian, Monday, Nov. 13,

In an effort to help the city in its efforts to crack down on a
dangerous class of vandalous scofflaws, Willamette Week hit the
mean streets of Northwest Portland to find out just who's behind all
those naughty posters. Of course, the majority of offenders seem to
be punks, hippies and rock-and-roll types--what can you expect
from those people? We were shocked, though, to find that this crime
wave has spread to erstwhile "respectable" elements. Here are a few
malefactors who are neck-deep in this dereliction of the peace--and
have the gall to carry out their mayhem in the mayor's back yard!


The Democratic Party (Northwest 19th and Lovejoy)

This hideous pale-green atrocity beckons Portland pinkos to an Oct.
22 campaign appearance by His Litigancy, Al Gore. Apparently paid
for by "Gore-Lieberman Inc.," it also bears the names and phone
numbers of the following conspirators: the Democratic Party of
Oregon, David Wu for Congress, Earl Blumenauer for Congress, Bethel
AME Church and the Graphic Communications International Union.

McMenamins (Northwest 21st and Lovejoy)

Who knew that one of Portland's most sterling homegrown business
successes also engaged in littering and vandalism on such a scale?
Posters for the McM Bros.' Crystal Ballroom are all over the
neighborhood, like the work of a tagger on a spree.

The Mark Woolley Gallery (Northwest 23rd and Lovejoy)

We knew there was something fishy about the Pearl District's
so-called "gallery scene." To judge by the appearance of this flier for
something called the "Toxic Opera," it's all just a front for crime!

The Oregon Chamber Players (Northwest 23rd and Johnson)

Classical musicians try to look so...innocent. We now know the truth!
These violin-wielding hellions afflict the unsuspecting public with a
flier announcing their performances of Haydn's Symphony 58 and
Divertimento 14. All Saints Episcopal Church, named on the
offending document, is a possible co-conspirator.