Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hawthorne Bridge Smile/Laugh Billboard

I go over the Hawthorne bridge all the time, usually on a bike. Much as I have tried, I haven't been able to ignore these `paintings' perched atop a building straddled by the on and off ramps of Hawthorne Bridge's east side. They seem to have some artistic aspiration, judging from the purposefully loose, painterly style, the use of color, and the hints of layers of paintings. My first reaction to a big `Smile' sign is annoyance. Am I supposed to smile because a sign tells me to? Wouldn't it be more interesting if the sign said urinate or wink or ululate or surrender? My East Coast sensibilities get the best of me. Smile?!? Laugh?!? Typical Portland tired, hippie banality! But wait...stop. Doesn't the fact that I have these thoughts every time I go by this billboard suggest that this is effective art? What if the artist intended for some viewers to have to deal with their cynicism or lack if ability to summon up some mirth on command? Maybe the artist is a genius and way ahead of me? Hmm.

1 comment:

  1. This was done by my ex boyfriend, who is 18 now. He attended Lincoln his senior year, and ACMA for freshman through junior year. He's a wonderful guy, and an utterly PHENOMENAL painter and artist. This is like child's play compared to his other work.