Portland is one of the few cities in America with a vibrant and active street art scene. So much so that there are several organizations devoted to advocating for the artists, and educating people on where to go to view the magnificent collections of sculptures and murals throughout the city.
The benefits of street art are two-fold: it not only brings together a community (businesses and artists can come to an agreement on where and what gets put on display), but the art itself makes Portland even more beautiful than it already is! And it’s FREE to the public.
A Brief History of Portland Street Art
During the 1980’s and 90’s, when the rise of random and illegal graffiti art infiltrated every large city, Portland was no different. But because of the high concentration of artists in Portland, with no solid creative outlet, people like Gage Hamilton recognized the need for artists to showcase their work in a safe and legitimate environment. He founded Forest For the Trees in 2013, a non-profit organization where street artists do their work without fear of retribution.
Forest For the Trees
Portland Street Art Alliance
Similarly, the Portland Street Art Alliance works to “activate Portland’s streets by promoting creative intentions in public spaces.” They even give tours to educate the public on various ongoing and upcoming projects!
One of the more prominent figures in Portland street art is an artist known as Klutch. Born in Oklahoma, he has been making incredibly bold and vibrant street art for decades. He’s even been known to get into the occasional rift with people in order to stay true to his art. I like to call him, Portland’s Banksy.
In addition to fabulous murals, the city abounds in metal and stone sculpture. Both local and international artists are commissioned by the city or by private stakeholders to create one-of-a-kind works of art for public consumption. The Downtown area, in particular, has the highest concentration of sculptures to beautify Portland.
There’s an App for That!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk or drive around searching for all of this great art. In order to truly appreciate all that Portland has to offer in the way of public art, download the Public Art PDX app for a detailed map of where to find all kinds of public art, from murals and sculptures to fountains and photographs.