Mike Hirschbach




June, 2002

After painting trees in the past few cities, I decided to tackle this decidedly un-organic bridge. Every morning I'd walk down to the river, where I'd paint for one to two hours. Afterwards, I discovered its name is the Hawthorne Bridge, and a friend pointed out that I hadn't strayed from the tree theme at all.
Letter to a friend: "Yesterday while I was walking around this glorious downtown, on a whim I jotted down some random thoughts about Portland and why I like it so much. Well, it's a walking city, and driving is discouraged by Park-and -ride programs and encouraged by the free Trolley program in the core area. There are bike paths everywhere, and the cheap and plentiful buses have racks on front so you can travel with your bike. Sidewalks are made of brick, and are very wide (20 feet or so) to encourage pedestrians. There are cafés and funky neighborhood bars everywhere, a very good art museum, excellent library, lots of book and clothing stores (both first and second hand. Trees, oh yes, lots of parks and fountains designed for nothing but enjoyment and refreshment. It's an exceptionally clean and relatively safe city, not to mention friendly (lots of good, off the cuff conversations with locals). It has a great environmental and recycling program, and takes other social problems seriously as well. Right now there's a very good, five day International Blues Festival taking place. The price of admission? Five bucks and two cans towards the food bank, with all the money going to the food bank program.

The local newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize last year for community service. There's both a Farmer's Market (organic locally grown produce), and a very large Saturday Market, a hybrid of high-grade flea market, food center and arts/crafts extravaganza. It has the best bookstore in the world (this is no mere hyperbole; Powell's is huge, insanely well stocked, and the staff is friendly and informed. It's a bookstore to get lost in for days). The streets have clean sight lines and unobstructed views. Thoughtfully placed and interesting sculptures are commonplace. From many vantage points you can see Mount Hood, the snow-capped dormant volcano, and the city is surrounded by incredible, easily accessed and unspoiled nature. And did I mention Powells?"

In conversation, one of the guests at the hotel, asked me what kind of a clown I was; "Are you a sad clown?" For a moment I was nonplussed, but Laura, who was also standing there, said," He's the kind of clown who, after they see him, people feel better".
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