September 2007

Interactive Theater explores Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Thursday, October 25th 2007 7 – 9pm (doors lock 7:30pm)

First Unitarian Church of Portland

Suggested Donation: $5, No One Turned Away
1226 SW Salmon, Rooms B002-B003
Light refreshments provided

Contact: 503-267-5081 or Visit Act For Action

What is Interactive Theater?
A short play requiring problem solving (written mostly by people with mental health issues) is performed first without interruption or solving any issues presented. When repeated, volunteers from the audience stop scenes, replace a character and act out potential solutions. Discussion follows each intervention.

A project of Act for Action – Theater for All, From the Inside Out explores issues of mental health through interactive theater and participatory workshops. This performance is made possible due to the generous support of the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Mental Health Action Group at the First Unitarian Church of Portland and individual donors.

Info: 503-267-5081,

Co-sponsored by the First Unitarian Church of Portland’s Mental Health Action Group

PCRI has put a new coat of paint on the Urban League of Portland at 10 NE Russell. Replacing a faded student mural on the back of the building (in the parking lot joining Chuck’s Market) are 13 portraits. I don’t know the artist (the letters FCI emblem each portrait).

The thirteen portraits are of

Avel Gordly – State legislator representing North Portland.
Gretchen Kafoury – Former City and County Commissioner.
Margaret Carter – State legislator representing North and Northeast Portland.
Malcolm X – Spokesman for the Nation of Islam and father of the Black Power movement. Died 1965.
Whitney Young – Former Director of the National Urban League. Died 1971.
Martin Luther King, Jr. – Leader of the civil rights movement, Nobel Prize winner. Died 1968.
Rosa Parks – Mother of the modern-day civil rights movement. Died 2005.
Nelson Mandela – Former President of the African National Congress, Nobel Prize winner.
Mercedes Diaz – Retired Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge.
Dr. DeNorval Unthank – Physician and co-founder of Urban League of Portland. Died 1977.
Ruth Standish Baldwin – Co-founder of the Urban League. Died 1934.
George Edmund Haynes – Co-founder of the Urban League. Died 1960.
Edwin C Berry – Early Portland Urban League Director, later ED of the Chicago chapter. Died 1987.


Dear Friend of Murals,

We are in the wonderful position of advising the City of Portland’s legal department, Mayor Potter and City Council members as they begin the process of crafting new language for the city’s sign code in regard to large-scale (over 200 sq ft), outdoor murals.

Clear Channel Mural Trial Results

Because of Judge Marcus’ Opinion of May 2007 at the close of the Clear Channel v City Portland trial, the City now has the judge’s directive to correct this long-standing code issue and to draw a distinction between commercial signs and murals.

To better make our suggestions known to City leaders, Portland Mural Defense came up with a short survey for muralists & mural supporters so that we can learn your thoughts on just what this new sign code should entail.

Already, some City Bureaus (Planning, etc.) have suggested that the difference between signs and murals is merely a mechanical one: ie. billboard signs use photographic techniques and are printed on vinyl, therefore, murals cannot be done on vinyl using digital techniques. Signs usually are positioned high on poles to attract the attention of traffic, so murals should only occupy the wall space from 14 feet up, down to the sidewalk level.

And so on.

If adopted, this type of legal distinction would severely limit the range of creative approaches available to muralists- for now, and far into the future!!

Instead, the true distinction between a sign and a mural is in intent.

Murals have a different purpose, use different processes (they are collaborative, and community-minded) and have different financial compensation arrangements than signs do.

In the Clear Channel v City of Portland trial, longtime muralist Joe Cotter was a pro se, third party intervenor and brought artists and members of the arts education community into the courtroom to testify on “what is a mural” for the first time in the case’s nine year history. Additionally, John Frohnmayer (former head of the NEA) also testified about the obvious differences between art and signage.

The Time Is Now!

Our Portland City Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of Tracy Reeve, Deputy City Attorney (who was lead attorney for the City in the Clear Channel trial), must make a recommendation to Mayor Potter before the end of next week (Friday, September 28th) on what the new sign code law will include. She is eager to hear from artists.


Your comments on this issue are crucial. We have only a few days to advise her and have an effect on what she will tell Mayor Potter about murals.

After next week a lengthy legislative process will follow that will include meetings and public hearings (details still to come on that phase). Stay tuned!

What You Can Do Complete the Portland Public Mural Survey now!

We’ll use the data to better inform ourselves about the mural arts community’s concerns and to advise City Council.

Write to City Council, describing your own experiences with murals and why they are an important avenue of expression.

Write directly to:

Deputy City Attorney Tracy Reeve, City of Portland Attorney’s Office
1221 SW 4th Ave. Room 430, Portland, OR 97204

4) Share the Mural Survey with other artists and interested friends. If you have a blog or other news medium, feel free to post the survey and background material.


Portland Mural Defense, Steering Committee – Joe Cotter, Mark Meltzer, Joanne Oleksiak

I don’t know about you but I don’t get out to the Parkrose High School north parking lot too often, but a recent visit was well worth the effort.

Larry Kangas and a large crew, including Joe Cotter and Joanne Oleksiak, have just finished (in early August) an elaborate history of horses – at least twenty of them, each in historical context and style, and many of well known artworks with horses. The painting – or paintings – run eight foot stripe around three walls of a city block sized building – at least 200 feet long. Impressive – perhaps Oregon’s largest painting? Yes.

And a celebration of size-for-the-sake-of-size for Joe Cotter and other mural artists, winners with the City of Portland of Clear Channel v Portland. See prior Portland Public Art posts More City Mural Suit Background and Ruling in Clear Channel Case Goes To Portland.

Kangas’ work is sponsored by both the school and RACC which spent $15,000 or almost half their miserably small budget for public murals on this project.

The location is odd – twenty feet above eye level, wrapping three sides of a building, no single viewpoint, running from a gated plaza area through the main parking lot and around to a side of the building which faces bland suburbia. I used binoculars and found nuances in photographs I missed with my eyes.

If this is an educational tool for Parkrose history and art students, and I’ll naively assume a curriculum is being developed, but the location is very peculiar and probably more difficult than helpful. Sketching? The height, distance and poor perspective defeat this. History? Horses are interesting but Jared Diamond’s theory of first world development in Guns, Germs and Steel is more accurate and comprehensive. But it’s not an educational tool – just promotion. The Parkrose football team are the Broncos.

“We tried to find imagery that will satisfy people from all the different cultures at the school so that everybody could have a piece of this,” Kangas said in the Oregonian. Ahh. Something for everyone – isn’t that the motto of public art.

From the Oregonian – Diversity at play in mural, July 27, 2007.

And see the world premiere of Alice in Wonderland as adapted by Adrian Mitchell by the Parkrose Thespians Troupe #1783 on November 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th and 19th. Call 503-408-2718 for details.

When I hold you, I hold everything: ruby-throated hummingbirds sipping from plum flowers, mangoes ripening in the smoke of burning forests, crones praying in the foamy sand at low tide, shocked waterfalls gracing new housing developments, volcanoes drinking in the fragrance of the stars. In your eyes I see everything that lives.

Mash-up of poet Pablo Neruda and pop astrologer Rob Brezsny, signed pOlArHeAAARRRTTTTTTTTTTT and glued to a telephone pole on West Burnside. Like mixing scotch and seven-up. Crap poetry with jumbled text ripped off from a master wordsmith. Silly. And pretentious. These sort of junior circuit appropriations are a cheap thrill for the maker but just discouraging and perhaps frightening for anyone else who is forced by glue and proximity to manage the madness and thievery of the other.

Disturbing “spray paint” sticker on pole across the street, probably made by one of those criminal PCNA students as some sort of “prank.”

Well deserved break, thank you. Now on with the rest of the show.

This colorful mural, easily 15 x 50 feet is on the corner of N Harding and Interstate, is under the east side of the Fremont Bridge. Unfinished, the artist or artists have stapled a sign seeking volunteers to help finish the project. I don’t know who to contact tho – I’ll post when I do, or perhaps someone does and can post contact information as a comment. These clearly are as hard as they look to conceive, calculate, concoct and create. Kudos to all involved.

Be careful trying to park near it – there aren’t many options for southbound traffic.

Smiling happy faces of neighborhood characters. Even unfinished, the pictures tell the whole story.