Benefiting from a state arts grant, Brentwood Darlington young people created a striking mural on S.E. 52nd

DAVID F. ASHTON - Young artists put finishing touches on the new mural they created during the Lift Youth Voices: Vibe of Portland Mural Project. Its on the wall of the Loyal Order of Moose; Lodge 291, on S.E. 52nd in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. Earlier this year, the Oregon Arts Commission announced 55 projects it had decided to fund with its "Arts Build Communities" grant program.

The only local award was a $3,243 grant to support the "Lift Youth Voices: Vibe of Portland Mural Project", a four-month mural-making class and construction project which is now complete.

"I've lived in this neighborhood for about twenty years, and watched wealthier families move in, and under-served families move out as housing becomes unaffordable," said "Vibe of Portland" Program Director, Dunja Marcum. "With this mural, I wanted to create a reminder for neighbors that we are the sum of people with different socioeconomic backgrounds, different ethnicities, races, and cultures, and we have a lot of kids whose voices need to be heard. "Putting a mural in a busy intersection for the neighborhood meant that people would be forced not only to see both the kids working on the mural for weeks, but also to bear witness to the final result," she remarked.

Over the course of six weeks fourteen young people participated in the program. "Some were there for shorter periods of time; others were there every single day, making new friendships," said Marcum.

Working in partnership with Lane SUN School, the students and their muralist brainstormed and settled on the design that now graces the south external wall of the Loyal Order of Moose; Lodge 291 building, on S.E. 52nd Avenue at Flavel Street.

While the wall was being painted, professional muralist Monica Milligan told THE BEE about the chosen design. "During this project, we're talking about identity, and things that are important and relatable to kids.

"You'll see animals, like the war horse; native images, a panther — signifying our roots and where we come from," Milligan went on. "And, then we're also including native Oregon flowers, and adding some additional creative touches to the wall."

As the project drew to a conclusion, Marcum said she was satisfied that the project had met her hopes of "drawing awareness to our youth in the community, and that they are capable of great things. I hope to be demonstrating that such community-led projects are powerful, and can create the momentum for change.

"I also hope that this project is just the beginning — that we fund mural projects every summer, and bring some of these kids back to serve as mentors for other kids."

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!