Mural Walk – Alphabet District

Muralist Paola Delfin at work
‘Soul,’ a mural by Paola Delfin
Adam Brock Ciresi surveys and touches up his mural.
Allison Mc Clay adds finishing touches.

Portland has a rich culture of giant urban murals — paintings that fill the sides of buildings; some 15-20 stories high or more. Local masters and famous muralists from around the world have come to grace our buildings with their stunning, original art. The murals usually go up so fast, few people get to see the artist in action. So, watching two muralists in action recently was a real treat.

How they can paint multi-story masterpieces is amazing all by itself. You know there is no ladder that tall. Sure, you could imagine them hanging off the side of a building like a window washer, but you know that isn’t very practical.

 One muralist I spotted was actually using a small mechanical lift and a painter’s roller on a long handle to create the first broad strokes. The next time I saw Adam Brock Ciresi, about two weeks later, he was wandering around with a bucket and paintbrush touching up his latest work on a new building next to the Chevron Gas Station at the corner of 21st Avenue and Lovejoy Street. His final piece is a bold, beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

About 12 blocks from Ciresi’s work, on Thurman Street near the corner of 23rd Avenue on the north wall of Willamette Wine Storage, I spotted Artist Allison McClay putting the final touches on the faces of people portrayed in her expansive mural. The vibrant colors feature three local businesses (also the underwriters of the piece): Boiling Bowl Vietnamese restaurant, St. Honore Bakery, and Fillmore Trattoria. McClay lives and works in Portland.  In 2007 she received a BFA in Illustration from California College of the Arts, and since then has been painting public and private murals of all sizes.  According to her biography, “I do all sorts of illustration commissions as well, from portraits to music posters to graphic novels.”

Another neighborhood mural, on the northwest corner of Lovejoy Street and 25th Avenue, was created by Mexican-born Artist Paola Delfin sometime in 2017. I go months without walking on 25th Avenue and was blown away by the giant face (named ‘Soul’) on the Lovejoy Medical Building near home. Delfin apparently travels around the world creating eye-popping murals and other artworks. All I can say is, “Wow!”

Photos of the work (above) are nice, but we urge you to go see the artwork in person to get the full effect.