By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Put on your walking shoes. Alberta Art Works is offering its third summer of Public Art Walks.
Ninety-minute walks are led by volunteers from Alberta Art Works, the nonprofit that has served for six years as a catalyst for creating public art to celebrate, beautify and create community. Purchase tickets for upcoming walks at AlbertaStreetGallery.com.
“Public Art Walk,” a self-guided tour brochure, is available free in many Alberta Street businesses. And, as of last year, you can download an app from TipTour.org for an audio tour that features voices of the muralists.
“There’s nothing new about public art,” said Maquette Reeverts, a member of the Alberta Art Works board of directors who leads the tours. “Street art was born on the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii. And 1970s and 1980s New York City was the midwife.”
There are many forms, several represented on Alberta Street. What they have in common, according to Maquette is they communicate. Statements – social, cultural, economic and political – add beauty to otherwise drab walls, ATMs, benches, sidewalks and more.
“During the tours we discuss what is sanctioned and unsanctioned street art, and we talk about the concept of public art and public space,” Maquette explained.
“Murals are the best form of graffiti abatement to date.” Taggers tend to respect muralists’ statements and tag elsewhere.
When a mural is tagged, the reasons vary. It could be a tagger’s retribution on a muralist he or she doesn’t like or a demonstration of disrespect for the mural. It might simply point out the mural is in need of repair.
Maquette has several favorite murals, each for a different reason. One is the “free wall” at south of Alberta Street in the alley between 27th and 28th avenues. It’s one that anyone is allowed to paint on at any time.
“It’s forever going up and coming down. The social and political artwork is incredible,” she said. That “sanctioned” wall is painted over every 12 months and artists and taggers begin anew. It’s currently one of two in town. (See ConcordiaPDX.org/2019/05/free-walls.)
Maquette is proud to see the community involvement in the Cycling Center’s mural on 17th Avenue. Fifty volunteers participated to paint it.
There are many mediums. Mimosa studios’ mural doesn’t use paint. Instead, hand painted tiles – created and fired in the ceramics studio – adorn its storefront. And The Station has installed the first participatory street art on Alberta – a blackboard for anyone to write on.
“Each piece of street art here is beautiful,” Maquette pointed out. “And each has something to say.”
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.