New Rosewood gas station mural celebrated

Find out why the filling station let young folks splash colorful paint on the back of the building – and, how this new art gives the neighborhood a boost …

It’s a celebration: Introducing the Rosewood Initiative Mural, which now covers the back wall of a gas station which used to be constantly defaced with graffiti.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The next chapter in the progress of the “Rosewood Initiative” was written, when the “Rosewood Mural” was unveiled on August 11.

Community members, officials, and volunteers all ignored the blazing sun and turned out in the parking lot behind the Union 76 Mini Mart on SE Stark Street at SE 162nd Avenue.

Antwoine Thomas, the artist behind the Rosewood Initiative Mural, says he’s proud to have helped improve the neighborhood in which he lives.

While kids played and grownups chatted, the mural’s artist, Antwoine Thomas, spoke with East Portland News about his involvement.

“I got word from a friend to talk with Jenny (Glass) – that she was looking for an artist to do an art piece on the wall,” Thomas recalled.

But, Thomas said that many people have proposed art projects to him, all to no avail. “I was cautious. But I saw her one day outside the office working with the flower pots. She asked if I had any artwork available to show – like, right then.”

This show of hands highlights all the people who helped create the Rosewood Mural.

It wasn’t an empty request by Glass, the program’s director.

“I went and got my artwork samples and presented then in front of the Rosewood Initiative Board. After that, they voted me into doing a project.”

Wasting no time, or any of the good summer weather, Thomas created the design, and with the help of as many as a dozen volunteers finished this outer East Portland community project in about two weeks.

Mike McKeel, Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Schults, all say they came to admire the Rosewood Mural.

“This is an exciting day,” commented Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel. “I’ve known about the Rosewood Initiative from its very beginning stages.”

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Schults said, “We’re very pleased to see the work of the Rosewood Initiative. It’s one of the highest areas of crime here – and the area straddles the jurisdictions of both Portland and Gresham – but it’s all within Multnomah County.

“The community has elected to make this area a ‘safe haven’,” Schults continued.  “We at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office worked to make this happen; to make this a safe haven for the kids and families.”

Rosewood Initiative Director Jenny Glass says the idea for a mural had been talked about for some time, but it took the artistic vision of the artist – Antwoine Thomas – to bring it to life.

“We made a mural! Woo!” cheered Rosewood Initiative Director Jenny Glass. “We came up with this idea about a year and a half ago. Now it’s done! I’m looking at it today, and looking at all of you from the community, and I can’t hardly believe it!

“The first time we met Antwoine Thomas, and he pulled out his artwork samples, our jaws dropped,” smiled Glass. “His work is so powerful and inspirational. And, Antwoine is really an inspirational young man, and a new leader in this community, too.”

Glass also commended Addie Kay Boswell. “As our ‘mural expert, she and Antwoine were an amazing team throughout the whole process. And, we got so many people in the community involved in the project – that’s another good part of this.”

Funding for the project came from an East Portland Neighbors, Inc. Graffiti Abatement Community Grant, and from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Keep up on what’s happening with the Rosewood Initiative by checking their website: CLICK HERE; or, see their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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