Graffiti Strikes In The Heart Of Hillsdale

At the Hillsdale food carts behind Ida B. Wells High School in SW Portland, I encountered a designated graffiti spot where graphology was encouraged, possibly exploited even, but not suppressed or scorned. I had noticed this in previous visits. One table had a plastic sharpie container that included sharpies. It took me a few trips to the carts to catch on and study the images. This collision of food carts and found art incubation may also offer some insight into what the kids of today are thinking based on their opportunity for self-expression.

Ah, graffiti, the hieroglyphics of our time that casts a smoky eyesore of complaints while a few of us recognize occasional demonstrations of urban splendor. The table is more doodle tableau than graffiti hotbed. It’s notable for not becoming contagious to the Cart Park’s other tables. The pens are placed on one table to say it’s only okay to mark THIS table. The other tables remain ink free. It feels like it could lead to a concept like leaving boxes of spray paint near a blank wall but this might not be the best way to inspire those kind of creative impulses.

A box of sharpies is a gentler touch. The results are a dense tapestry of lines and shading that evolves into hazy, read between the lines messages that include occasional name drops. It’s the stuff that makes this type of graffiti so fascinating. This seems to be a tiny solution to offering a semi controlled outlet to those with an unquenchable creative spirit.

Class couple or Fall fling? Only the yearbook committee knows for sure.

Faces among the hazel nut shells tell a story of art class participation, comic book dreams and the wonders of youth.

An incredible business idea destroyed by signage design with bad font.

Disagreements about Reid and how Anya’s body temperature runs a few degrees warmer than the rest of us.

We can’t get enough of frogs here at the Portland Orbit. This is a great image to contemplate while waiting for a Mr. Miyagi sandwich from the Phat Cart.

Sometimes cherries and despair are the mood.

Ingenuity means all surfaces of the canvas can be used.

A Van Gogh crow or just another lost angel? Somehow it seems fitting that someone should be attacking Sponge Bob.

A splash of dashed hopes, scratches, a scared heart and a word of either pride or shame.

In all the expressionistic semi-sophistication, a bit of juvenilia feels pretty good. The face captures my current mood so much that it feels like a self-portrait. While his hat is blown away from the wrath of Buttman, I remain optimistic that it will land back on our heroes’ head. May you have the same luck with all your run-ins with evil doers.

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