Midway area gets first mini-mural

Take a look at the first outer East Portland ‘Art on a Box’ project, brightening up a spot at the central intersection served by the Division Midway Alliance …

This “instant mural” appears on a Portland Bureau of Transportation signal control box, located in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Many public art projects, especially murals, are massive in size. But, a new compact artwork appeared near the southwest corner of SE 122nd Avenue and Division Street a few weeks ago, and was officially unveiled on November 21.

“We found that other municipalities have done what’s called ‘Art on a Box’ projects successfully. That’s not only public art, but also is a graffiti deterrent,” remarked Division Midway Alliance for Community Improvement (DMA) Executive Director Lori Boisen at the dedication.

All smiles about the successful completion of the project is DMA Executive Director Lori Boisen.

“This project was born out of the community’s desire for public art,” Boisen told East Portland News. “The DMA’s answer was to find a low-cost form of public art that we could get installed – in this case, on a traffic signal control box – in the district as soon as possible,” she added.

To help fund the project, DMA’s AmeriCorps Member Kem Marks spearheaded the successful effort to obtain grants from East Portland Action Plan, Regional Arts & Culture Counsel, and Portland Development Commission – and created the mural on the Box project, Boisen said.

Distinct, but blended, styles of art – covered with an anti-graffiti coating – now brighten this formerly-gray electrical utility box.

“Kem brought all parties to the table, and answered any concerns that they had, to make this happen,” commented Boisen.

The artists involved were all students from David Douglas High School’s main and Fir Ridge campuses, who worked under the direction of an adult art coordinator.

Student artist Donald Thille says the artists created their works at school, which then were transferred, by computer, to a vinyl utility box wrap.

Their “canvas” was actually a durable, high-tech vinyl wrap – typically used on trucks and busses – to cover the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) signal control box, pointed out one of the artists, Donald Thille.

“I did the transitions, from one scene into another, on a computer using Photoshop, so it looks like it was airbrushed,” Thille explained.

Another student artist, Yulaya Kostina shows some of her artwork, a pastel of a path and trees, which looks like a watercolor painting.

“When people see this, I hope they’re a surprised and delighted, to discover a little art in the city,” smiled another student artist, Yulaya Kostina.

“I’m excited to see us doing this kind of thing around Portland now, and I hope other artists with other organizations will speak up and participate,” added Kostina.

Seeing more “Art on a Box” popping up around Portland is a definite possibility, agreed PDOT Director Leah Treat, at the project’s unveiling.

“We want to work with other communities who want to replicate the success of this ‘Art on the Box’ project,” confirmed Treat.

Here, cutting the dedication ribbon for the “Art on a Box” project is Kem Marks, along with artists Yulaya Kostina and Donald Thille.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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