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Classical mysteries painted all over Sellwood truck

by: RITA A. LEONARD - This art truck near S.E. 15th Place and Linn Street in Sellwood celebrates classical mysteries. Owners of “art cars” – painted and sculpted vehicles – often use this form as a way to express thoughts and opinions.

Sellwood resident Tim Calvert, owner of a home-based business called The Bike Bucket, touches on past mysteries, among the many images painted on his Mazda B2300 pickup truck.

One mystery refers to the possibility of an alternate author for Shakespeare's plays. Calvert feels they should be attributed to philosopher-scientist Sir Francis Bacon. The other mystery refers to a story of Sir Francis Drake exploring Nehalem Bay on a secret voyage around the world in 1578.

Images of Greek gods and myths are also painted on other sections of the vehicle.

Calvert has been adding painted scenes to his trucks (this is his second) for 15 years. He and his wife, Jan, enjoy the conversations that arise from people stopping to admire the artistry. “Sometimes they even leave us love letters under the wiper blades,” he says with a laugh. It's obvious that the man behind the murals is a thoughtful individual.

In reference to the Shakespeare citations, Calvert says, “It’s obvious to me that Sir Francis Bacon had much more ability and opportunity to write the plays that are attributed to Shakespeare. You can check the Web for further information. “Although there’s a lot of resistance among academics to the alternate attribution, Bacon was known as a visionary genius in his time, and the subjects of the plays relate to what Bacon’s life was about.”

The tailgate of the truck features a scene of Greek columns, and a quote by William Blake: “Exuberance is beauty.” Calvert explains, “Athena, who is painted on the passenger door, was Bacon’s avatar.”

While classical images are predominant in the artistic paint job, the truck’s hood is entirely devoted to cats. Calvert’s two current kitties, Penny and Tigerlily, are represented there, along with a Sigmund Freud quote: “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” “We’ve always owned cats,” remarks the artist fondly, “So apparently, we’ve never wasted any time.”

A small painting promoting Calvert's business – www.thebikebucket.com – is on the right side of the truck. Calvert's bike buckets are simple, inexpensive solutions for transporting materials by bike. They are rectangular, recycled, 4-gallon food-grade plastic buckets, easy to install on the front or rear of most bikes, and are especially useful on long trips. “They’re raccoon-proof and watertight,” says Calvert, a member of the Sellwood-based Association of Home Businesses. “They can serve as chairs and tables, and they also add visibility with their white background. I can also customize them with paint jobs. Bike Buckets have been used widely in Portland for over 20 years, and their smooth sides do not create unnecessary wind resistance.”

Calvert is a self-trained artist who recommends One Shot brand oil-based paint for vehicle painting. “It's used by professional sign painters,” he explains. “It wears well, is bright, and is easy to touch up.” He suspects that people enjoy his truck as much for its uniqueness as for its artistry. “People crave ‘breaking out of the mold’,” he says. “Kids, especially, respond to the creative individuality of it.

“It’s a great conversation-starter, and gives people something to think about.”