'CARTIST' DRIVES IN A LANE OF HIS OWN
If you've lived in Portland for a while you've probably seen one of the Rev. Chuck Linville's crazy cars on the road or parked somewhere.
They're hard to miss, adorned with everything from plastic figures to metal sculptures to sirens, bobblehead dolls and irreverent, satirical messages like "Don't forget to prey!"
It's not the work of a madman. It's all in the name of prankster art.
Linville, a retired postman who's lived in Sellwood for the past 38 years, has made it his hobby to create and drive his "art cars" around town, and engage with people as they react.
Over the past 25 years, Linville has created five art cars, and recently retired/junked his very first art car — Our Lady of Eternal Combustion — that was sinking into the concrete of his driveway.
Of the three art cars currently in his charge, the Danger Car is covered with all things dangerous for you, the Reverend Bill's Vacation Bible Camp car pokes fun at religion, and his current daily driver is called Meat Me in Portland, which is a Subaru Outback with different cuts of meat painted and stuck on.
His house is decked out in the same style, with enough colorful tchotchkes to fill several thrift shops.
Each room has its own theme — the living room has board games stuck to every surface, the bathroom is covered with animated big-mouth Billy Bass fish, and another is devoted to velvet paintings.
Hate it or love it, but you can't argue that Linville is doing his part to keep Portland weird. His uniqueness hasn't gone unnoticed.
In 2014, friend and filmmaker Greg Hamilton convinced Linville that he should make a documentary short about his unique way of seeing the universe.
Hamilton started filming — with longtime collaborator Ira Flowers — in a fly-on-the-wall style reminiscent of renowned filmmaker Les Blank's documentary portraits.
Following the filming, Hamilton raised more than $15,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to complete the project, and then spent the next few months with Flowers in editing and post-production.
Earlier this month "Thou Shall Not Tailgate" was screened to a sold-out audience at the Hollywood Theatre, receiving a wildly enthusiastic reception. Hamilton is thrilled.
On Sunday, Feb. 25, the 25-minute film will have its national festival debut at the Portland International Film Festival, bringing the project full circle.
The film is not just a story about Linville. It's more universal, says Hamilton: "It's also a story about Portland, Oregon, a place with a long history of outcasts and weirdness undergoing a cultural shift of sorts. The city has exploded in population and development and is rapidly transforming into a place at risk of losing its soul. In some ways, Chuck is the antidote to all of that."
The film lets viewers peek into Linville's world, where his habit of poking fun at all layers of social issues, religion and politics is "a solution to boredom," Hamilton explains.
It's no surprise that Linville is a founding member of the Portland Cacophony Society, a collection of local artists, musicians and pranksters that author Chuck Palahniuk wrote about in his Portland expose "Fugitives and Refugees."
Hamilton first met Linville through the Cacophony Society, at a friend's wedding that Linville — an ordained minister — officiated.
"My desire is to introduce Chuck to people," says Hamilton, who's been involved in the Portland film scene for the past 14 years and is on the board of directors for the Hollywood Theatre.
Whether people are indifferent, enthusiastic or offended by his work is A-OK with both artist and filmmaker.
Hamilton says Linville feeds off his audience's reactions, and doesn't expect everyone to love it. "That's your interpretation," he's been known to tell people, Hamilton says. "You can figure that one out for yourself, I'm just putting it out there."
The 41st Portland International Film Festival continues through March 1. See the premiere of "Thou Shall Not Tailgate" during Oregon Shorts Program at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave. For more: www.nwfilm.org