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Woodstock's future: More murals on the neighborhood's walls supported by the business community

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - In front of the mural, as it was being painted next to Cloud City Ice Cream, were members of the Woodstock Stakeholders Group, from left: Erin Beauchamp, Red Fox Vintage; Angie Even, a building owner; Elisa Edgington, WNA; Bryan Gilbert, Cloud City; Laurie  Flynn, Delta Caf̩; Gene Dieringer, Bi-Mart and Safeway blocks; Kevin Myers, Reed College - and the mural artists, Jon Stommel and Travis Czekalski. Some of the walls on Woodstock businesses Рor next to businesses Рhave reportedly been considered by many neighbors to be drab and uninteresting.

One such wall is the one next to Cloud City Ice Cream, a neighborhood shop facing Woodstock Boulevard on the south side of Safeway, which makes (neighbors say) some of the best ice cream in Portland. Over time, some Cloud City customers and employees have commented that the surrounding exterior walls could use some color.

Now, just in time for Cloud City’s fifth anniversary, it is finally flanked by a colorful new mural.

The movers and shakers behind this brightening of the Woodstock neighborhood are “The Stakeholders”, a group of Woodstock’s commercial building and property owners in partnership with Reed College and the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, and once a committee of the Woodstock Community Business Association.

Some of these Stakeholders have formed a committee whose goal is to help create a “more vital and brighter” village, which is how many Woodstock residents think of their community. They have been meeting and writing grants for six months.

The committee chose two artists to paint three murals – one next to Cloud City; another on Red Fox Vintage’s east wall; and the third on Delta Café’s west wall.

Artists Travis Czekalski and Jon Stommel of “Rather Severe” first rolled the wall next to Cloud City with white paint, and then proceeded to spray paint grey outlines filled with spray-painted vibrant colors.

Tyler Klein, a Cloud City “ice cream scooper”, gave her opinion of the mural: “It’s gorgeous. This brightens the area, and gives this the feel of a homemade neighborhood space.”

Rachelle Bellinger, another scooping employee was more succinct in her response: “It rocks,” she said emphatically.

The Delta Café and Red Fox murals have since been painted with the same geometric precision as the one next to Cloud City. The painters describe the design process for all three murals: “We drew and colored each of the three mural designs together. The drawing was done on paper, and then scanned into a computer and finally colored digitally. Of the experience, they say, “The activity of painting is a simple pleasure that never gets old. Being able to inspire people and brighten a wall with color and personality is also very rewarding.”

In addition, the two painters say they like “meeting people in the surrounding neighborhood and having conversations about art with them.” They also enjoy “being able to work outside, and have fun while doing it.”

These artists, Czekalski and Stommel, moved to Portland from Columbus, Ohio, five years ago. They both went to Columbus College of Art and Design, and started collaborating on murals there. To date they have completed seventy murals together in such locations as Vancouver, Washington; Denver and Boulder, Colorado; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; and two other locations here in Portland.

As for Woodstock, the Stakeholders say their “Woodstock Street Art Project is busy identifying more possible locations for all sizes and types of art on Woodstock [Boulevard].” They say, “Thanks to RACC and Metro for awarding us grants for these murals and to the Woodstock Commercial Building Owners for their donations!” In recognition of this ongoing Woodstock project, the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA), the longtime sponsor of the neighborhood banners on the utility poles, has elected to phase out the street banners as they get worn and tear, to allow the new murals to serve as the primary distinguishing emblem of the Woodstock neighborhood.

Meantime, to continue the mural project, the Stakeholders Group is looking for partners and locations for more such art projects. Tax-deductible donations may be made to: Woodstock Stakeholder Group, 4410 S.E. Woodstock Blvd. #250, Portland, OR 97206.

And if you would like to see more of the work of the “Rather Severe” duo of Czekalski and Stommel, go online:

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