Unstable atmosphere over ever changing signage, a popular slice of Sellwood-Moreland
This view looking down SE Miilwaukie Avenue in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood of Portland was an easy mile’s walk from my apartment when I first moved to Portland in 2007. My instant reaction was “I have to paint this.”, and it would have been my first Portland painting instead of my second, had I known about it.
An expression of a typical main street of a neighborhood that’s like a very small city within a larger one, with a theater, cafes, bars, hardware store, dry cleaning, and random quirky shops…but no strip malls. A place with all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of a big city, that once discovered quickly becomes expensive. According to locals I met who came before me, in the 1980s this was a shabby and dangerous neighborhood with no interest at all to real estate agents.
Purple and yellow are the colors I notice for a typical March late afternoon sky, when “the atmosphere goes on binges” as I originally described it to my friends back on the east coast who were wondering how I liked all that constant rain they thought happened in Oregon. No, it usually goes back and forth between chilly sun coming out from behind chaotic windy clouds and downpours, which I had to keep ducking from by running across the street and hiding under the awnings in the left corner. The cloud formations are rich in depth against the clear sky, almost like seeing them from an airplane window. For this I used a negative space technique, not adding any color to the light spots, which I stumbled across by accident on my very first try in 1991 in Greenfield MA when painting in a bleak November setting sun in a white sky over a busy street.
Some of the small businesses have been replaced by newer ones and the tree in the center is now gone but the “spot” has remained largely the same, which I soon found was a mysteriously popular one for a other local representational artists. Knowing that universal standards of human beauty had been discovered to exist, I began to suspect “is there is also one for art and music, that’s maybe more dynamic and has a calculus formula?”
One comment I get about these kinds of street scenes is “I like how you put which movies are playing on your theater signs”. I thought The Lives of Others was one of the better movies that came out, but could not see how any could manage to keep selling tickets for most of that whole year. Hmm, there must have been a lot of nosy people that got sold on the title.
Moreland Theater, SE Portland, Oregon, March 2007, ink & watercolor, 22″X15″