Whatever Happened to…Mysterious Halloween Window Pictures?


There’s a naive charm to the images that caught my eye a few years back. Since then the photos lingered in the Portland Orbit archive waiting for the right moment. What’s more right for Halloween images than Halloween? The simple two tone color designs must have beckoned to me. These weren’t the usual window paintings and while their artistic merits weren’t top notch they seemed to be trying their best.

The black cat, indifferent to much as most cats are, has become an accidental symbol of Halloween. I have proof that the superstition of crossing a black cat’s path will bring actual bad luck. Bad luck fits the spirit of Halloween. This representation presents an all knowing, kid’s book illustration cat seeing the world from one side of a window.

We all know that toothy pumpkins are another symbol of Halloween. This makes it the favorite holiday of dentists everywhere. It’s not just about all the extra business they’ll get from candy consumption cavity generation. It’s also the pumpkin teeth. This illustration blows my mind. I never would have thought a cat would sit on a pumpkin due to their indifference but it happens. Our research department revealed it’s all over the internet.

Considering the depictions of Jack-o-Lanterns on this window, it’s still rare to see rectangular eyes and mouths. This pumpkin looks like a head that’s fallen off a scary Halloween robot. There’s a uniqueness to this depiction that would make all Jack-o-Lanterns proud.

There are should and should nots when creating Halloween scenes. The truly scary shoulds involve floating pumpkins and scowling scarecrows. What should not be included would be crows flying in parrot costumes.

This window scene sprang out of a farm house location. The flying crows look much less like Van Gogh birds than I once thought. My imagination fills in the gaps envisioning an old farm on a late fall afternoon with a wide open field for pumpkins and crows to gather. The barnyard cats hang out. One looks intimidating, another enjoys some autumn sun while lounging on a pumpkin. Simple illustrations capture an infinite moment in a finite medium. The Halloween decorations were sure to be scraped and scrubbed away to make room for the next holiday.

My love of untrained folk art draws me to any attempts of creativity. These pictures were taken years ago. Our research department couldn’t place when but it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter. No one is interested in the exact day, hour or year these images were taken. I realized I could stop wracking my brain. Then while writing this piece, I realized I couldn’t confirm where these pictures were taken. I thought it was a market on Dekum in NE, across from the gelato place. That market became the Tough Luck bar. The more I looked at details within the photos, the more I realized it could well have been decorations on a NE market across from the Ethiopian restaurant named Enat’s Kitchen. Regardless, these images stand on their own in their mystery and their ability to capture the spooky aura of the season. Beyond that nothing much matters but as an added bonus, I learned the revelatory fact that cats sit on pumpkins.

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