Do You Want These Murals Replaced By Graffiti?
Urgent Appeal - June 25th, 2011
The little warehouse on the corner of Williams and Wygant used to be a neighborhood upholstery shop. More recently, people have been working to turn it into a community art space called Arts Base. Wall space has been allocated to artists for rotating murals that showcase local talent. The first round of murals is still developing, but has been improving steadily in quality with the advent of good weather.
This creative expression is being jeopardized by a ruling of the city of Portland Graffiti Abatement Program that these paintings are illegal. Never-mind the fact that this building has been covered with graffiti many times over in the past, and only 2 small tags have appeared since the mural work began. Never-mind the fact that it is impossible to get a 'mural permit' for a garage connected to a residence, like Arts Base.
This building is close to becoming an outlet for serious artistic expression. Everyone may not like all of the artwork on the building. None of the artwork is intended to stay indefinitely, and the Arts Base organizers have sought out community feedback on what should be represented on the building. If the people of the neighborhood don't support this project, it will be painted over by Thursday. The Graffiti Abatement Program is pointedly ignoring graffiti up and down Williams Ave, but on the same day served at least two community mural projects with abatement notices, and the coordinator of the office who handles appeals promptly went on vacation.
If you would like to see something created in this neighborhood, instead of obliterated, then call City Commissioner Amanda Fritz at 503-823-3008. Tell her that she looked very nice in her pink dress at the Good in the Hood parade, and that public murals don't create 'an atmosphere of urban decay that can permeate a neighborhood'. 10 days isn't enough time to even begin a public process - ask her to grant a stay of execution on the abatement order so we can organize an equitable appeal hearing on the matter, and a method to legitimize residential mural projects or clearly exclude them from auspices of the Graffiti Abatement Program.
Wygant St. near Williams. Arts Base
cpmtact: Thimble | firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-980-1640 | artsbase.info
We at Arts Base have received some unfortunate news: the mural project on the corner of Wygant and Williams has been deemed an 'illegal painting' by the newly expanded Graffiti Abatement Program. The office targeted at least one other public mural for removal the same day. We have been told there is no method for local residential murals to obtain a permit to become legal. The deadline for removal is 10 days, which means this Thursday.
As many of us may recall, this warehouse attached to our residence was unused for many years and a heavy target of graffiti taggers. No local person was responsible for the building, and the markings were infrequently removed. One desired goal for the mural project was to reduce or eliminate tagging on the building, which it has effectively done. We understand that everyone probably does not like every artwork on the building, and the earliest bits were of low quality. Our intention has been to create a rotating showcase of local talent, and the first round is nearly finished. Our access to talented and local artists has been increasing as the reputation of the building has grown, and we are trying to figure out how to match the input of neighbors with the freedom of expression required by artists.
Our purpose in creating a community art space in the first place was to turn an eyesore, through communication and local participation, into an extension of the vibrant liveliness and creativity that has suffused our household. Our long-term goal has been to develop the capacity and skills to become a local pollinator of techniques for sustainable living. In the event that global food and water shortages or other crises should impact Portland, we will benefit from every degree in which we have built up our local community.
We have heard 'through the grapevine' that there are a number of concerns about the Arts Base project in the local community. We would like to hear about them. We may need to set regular neighborhood meetings up where anyone can come by and chat about whatever is on their mind. But right now we need your help to protect the victory of artistic expression over real graffiti and tagging.
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz oversees the Office of Neighborhood involvement. A dozen calls in support of the murals, especially from immediate neighbors, could easily convince her to give Arts Base a reprieve from the requirements of the Graffiti Abatement Program. Please give her office a call early this week at 503-823-3008. The issue of public art in Portland is a long and controversial one, suffused with the desire to keep billboards out of town. Let her know how you feel about public art projects as an alternative to blank slates for taggers, especially at Wygant and Williams! There's a good article about a mural depicting similar situations in Toronto at: tinyurl.com/torart
Enjoy the sun,
Thimble and the Arts Base Organizing Collective
503-980-1640 | email@example.com | ArtsBase.info