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Brooklyn Mural adds color to the neighborhood

by: Rita A. Leonard Artist Lew Jones, designer of the new Brooklyn Pedestrian Bridge Mural, paints the base colors for transportation stencils. With the help of volunteers, he hopes to complete the mural on the Powell Boulevard pedestrian overcrossing by October.

The Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association's 'S.E. 9th Avenue Pedestrian Mural Project' is now underway involving the pedestrian overcrossing bridge above S.E. Powell Boulevard.

B.A.C. Chair Mike O'Connor launched the project, which is funded by a grant from Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement via the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition.

Portland artist/musician Lew Jones has been selected to design the mural, with a focus on neighborhood historic transportation issues. Coincidentally, O'Connor and Jones both live nearby on S.E. 9th Avenue.

After networking for materials, support, and volunteers, Jones began preparing the painting site in mid-August - on the same day as Portland's Bridge Pedal event.

'Metro has donated primer to us, which we start applying it with rollers on August 21,' he explained. 'The mural will cover both interior walls of the entire length of the bridge. We'll work on one side at a time, in order to facilitate continuing pedestrian traffic. This bridge is used regularly by walkers and bikers in the neighborhood.'

Notices seeking volunteers for the project have circulated in Brooklyn, and Jones hopes to involve neighborhood youths as well as adults. The mural is planned to beautify the area, and cut down on graffiti. 'If people walk through a place and take ownership of it, they'll take better care of it," observed one volunteer.

'We're offering pizza and Coke after the work is done,' added Jones. 'We'll be focused on working though; it's not just a big party.'

Jones has designed kinetic stencils of people and animals involved in various forms of transportation for the mural. 'These are being cut out free for us by Beard's Frame Shop,' he says. 'They'll be painted in monochromatic primary and friendly colors against a background of earth tones. Miller Paint has donated and mixed the colors for us.'

Neighbors who regularly use the pedestrian bridge over Powell Boulevard have commented that graffiti accumulates when a blank surface offers opportunities. 'The overpass was ready for artistic embellishment that will minimize graffiti and celebrate Brooklyn history,' smiles O'Connor. 'I like the idea of transforming public spaces into opportunities for public art,' Jones agreed.

Jones' plan is to begin using background colors reminiscent of Monet's Water Lilies paintings. "After all, Brooklyn's history as 'Brook Land' reflects the original appearance of the neighborhood,' he says. 'As the mural winds upwards toward the center of the bridge, we'll apply stencils of fish, then birds, animals and people, in different forms of transportation. The mural will be finished with artistic touches that help tie the theme together.

'This should become a place where people are drawn to, to enjoy the artwork as well as the view,' he adds. 'Volunteers will help prepare the area, paint and clean up. We're hoping that pride in the project will promote continued cleanup and care for Brooklyn's unique pedestrian overpass.

'Volunteers will be working mostly on weekends, starting at 9 am. We anticipate the project should be completed by October, to beat the rain. Volunteers can contact me at 503/701-7893.'