By Taylor Nehrling | Concordia neighbor
One of Portland’s many valued attributes is its strong sense of community, commonly expressed through art. That’s the ongoing case at 32nd Avenue and Sumner Street.
A street mural at the intersection pays tribute to Brook Irwin, the neighbor we lost to cancer. This month our community reunites to refresh the Rainbow Dragon that offers joy and whimsical play to those who pass by and memories to us of our neighbor.
As a community, in 2015 we wanted to honor Brook’s life. We thought she would want us to build neighborhood relations. So the intention of this project became twofold: create a memorial and celebrate connection through a community-building event.
We received great help from the Village Builders Convergence (VBC). Community art projects like this one happen all around the city each year in conjunction with the VBC. Its 21-yearold Placemaking Program offers support and education in design logistics, fundraising, city permits and supply discounts.
The VBC is a program of the City Repair Project, a local nonprofit that, in its own words, “fosters thriving, inclusive and sustainable community through the creative reclamation of public space.”
The design for the Rainbow Dragon was inspired by Brook and her interests. According to Jason Horner, Brook’s husband, she taught high school geology, biology and physical science.
“She highly valued education and loved learning,” he added. “I think she would have been a lifelong student given the chance. Teaching science allowed her to combine educating, collaborating, helping people and her love of the outdoors – she was a great rock climber and loved hiking to vistas to see all the wonders of the natural world.”
The Rainbow Dragon is a symbol of our collective healing. It is an art installation that invites interaction with the viewer. Traveling around the rainbow and jumping across the stepping stones brings one in connection with the wonders of living. May your journey be joyful.
We will repaint the Rainbow Dragon Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. until we finish. The repainting is long overdue. Like many things that were put on hold due to the pandemic, we are eager to gather again and brighten our neighborhood with color, joy and camaraderie.
Please come and join us in taking advantage of our shared spaces and celebrate our abundance of community. Bring a brush!
For further information about the Rainbow Dragon intersection painting event, contact me at TaylorTracy1975@yahoo.com and/or donate at GoFund.me/82f2947d (Rainbow Dragon repaint)
Painting rules are few, and permits freeModern street painting efforts in Portland date back to 1996. Find help for initiating your own street painting project at CityRepair.org/become-aplacemaker. The rules are few and the permits are free. Details on the points below – and more – are available at Portland.gov/transportation/permitting/ street-painting.
- Typically, the city allows paintings only on low-traffic residential streets.
- Art must contain no words, copyrighted material or appearance of traffic control devices.
- Art may be as large as an intersection or an entire block.
- A free Street Painting Permit is required. Apply for a Street Painting Permit here.
- A free Healthy Blocks Permit is required to close the street for painters to work safely. Apply for a Healthy Blocks Permit here.
Taylor Nehrling is a 17-year Concordia resident and a mother and an artist. Taylor is also an alumna of Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, and she is passionate about art as a common language for expression, healing and connection.