Tunnel of Poems

Yesterday I walked from downtown Portland to the South Portland Neighborhood, passing through a pedestrian tunnel that goes under Naito Parkway, connecting First Avenue to Water Avenue. The tunnel follows the curve of Grover Street, a noisy cement habitrail where cars scurry to and from the Ross Island Bridge. Here is the tunnel entrance.IMG_6156Stepping into the tunnel, I was happily surprised to see that the walls inside had been embellished with colorful designs.IMG_6153Then I noticed that someone had woven poems throughout the over-sized graffiti. Or maybe the graffiti was added to enhance the poems. However it came about, the enormous bright designs mixed harmoniously with the simple black lettering.IMG_6144IMG_6146IMG_6142IMG_6145IMG_6143It is beyond my ability to provide a critical analysis of these words and images. I can say that I enjoyed this encounter with creativity and the sense of free expression it provided. Of course, this is my take on it – one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Well-intentioned neighbors or City employees will probably cover all this with gray paint very soon. I hope lots of people get the chance to see it before that happens. Update 4/12/14: I was talking to Garry about the fact that this art soon will be hidden under gray paint. He said, “maybe that’s how it should be.” And I agree. Good graffiti can challenge its viewers to see the world in new ways. It is wrong to presume that those who paint over it are against this! In fact, gray-painters are an important part of free expression. Intentionally or not, they will provide a fresh canvas for the next bright spark who wants to illuminate one of Southwest Portland’s dark corners.IMG_6147See April 14 tunnel update here.


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