Greetings From Slabtown


Corner of NW 13th & Marshall J.Paradisi 2003
Corner of NW 13th & Marshall J.Paradisi 2003


     The paintings in the series Greetings From Slabtown began when I painted the view from the window of the loft I was living in a few years ago.

      The White Tower, prominent in most of the paintings, is gone – torn down to make room for what is now The Wyatt. Incidentally, the  day that the tower was torn down and lay in rubble, was the same day that one of my very favorite cancer patients (a physician) died.  I knew he was dead the moment I saw the tower crumpled in sections in the street, on my way to work.  But that’s another story.

        My interest in these buildings expanded to include the beautiful old industrial buildings which grace the part of Northwest Portland once known as Slabtown. The name Slabtown refers to the wood mills located in the area, along the Willamette River. Portlanders used to go to these mills and buy “slabs” left over from the trees that were processed into lumber and use them for fuel to heat their homes.

       These old buildings, many abandoned and left in disrepair, nonetheless stand against the sky as graceful and elegant as old world nobility who have lost their fortune.

   The old buildings have weathered storms and upheaval. I see these landmarks as sentinels, surviving both prosperity and decline, now transforming into something new as Slabtown becomes the Pearl District and takes on another identity.

      They remind me that change is constant in life and not to fear it. No matter how attached I become to a particular time or era, place or person, nothing lasts forever. Good and bad times are borne, live out their purpose, then pass away. It is as it should be, though the process is often painful.

As a frail human, I grieve the losses that are inevitably experienced. As an artist, I find change inspiring and fascinating: a new opportunity to create. The past, present, and future are grand scale versions of the art process itself . As in creating a work of art, the choices and influences one brings to life are plastic, mutable, and up to the individual.

click on this link to see the remaining images of Greetings From Slabtown.