The Portland Police NE Portland Precinct was tasked with colonial duties beyond law and order, and as a start was plopped down in a dead zone, Killingsworth and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in 1994. Mrs. Terry Porter and Mrs. Buck Williams (back in the day – Blazers had wives!) chimed in with local boosters and built the Boys and Girls Club. Together, inspired by Tom Potter and with a lot of luck, a tide was turned. Some retail (including the super-friendly Reflections Bookstore) survived the transition.

Artwork, that 1% solution, helped initiate the building in its new role. It needed to be black, but not angry black. It needed to be soulful, but not hostile. It needed to be visible, but no tutorials, no politic, no comment. And the RACC has always specialized in sourcing unoffensive art.

Everyone loves Baba Wague Diakite. Even I love Baba Wague. So.

There are 28 ceramic tile sets of six squares, five in a vertical row, and a sixth at 45 degrees set below, set into the columns of three sides of the building. Animals, spirit beings, insects, fish + frogs. They’re nice and they’ve worn excellently. Bright colors!

On the East side of the building is a 5 x 60′ mural with a fountain called Pedestrian Parkway, which is joined by two sets of ceramic tiles created by kids at Dishman Community Center and at King Elementary.

Before the mural is a simple fountain with cement frog sculptures by Ronna Neuenschwander, Baba Wague’s wife. Doesn’t look like the fountain has been operating for quite a while.


Like the tiles, the mural is a pantheon of what I guess are figures from Baba Wague’s Mali stories. Frog and King Fish, monkeys and birds all clambering on a boat, perhaps illustrating a story written alongside the painting.

Attacted to the mural is one of the Mali stories Baba Wague loves to tell – of the Frog and the King Fish.

Baba Wague Diakite – The Hatseller and the Monkeys

Bio + resume at Africancraft.com

Baba Wague, workng in the schools and writing books for kids.

Baba Wague Diakite – The Hatseller and the Monkeys

Slide / lecture – Without Stories, There Is No Art

Just as cute and charming are the two sets of mosaic tiles.

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Speaking of police, today is the THIRD anniversary of the murder of Asia Bell. If you know anything about who committed this crime, immediately contact Bret Smith, NE Precinct Commander at 503-823-5700. You can send an anonymous email to wsvilar@police.ci.portland.or.us. This was a terrible crime – please help.

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