Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Community is at the core of everything we do.

2018 . 09 . 02 - Comments / Commentaires (3)

- -—[version française]—- -

Portland was my home for over twenty years and I still love the City of Roses, but I had to leave. The people who were running things there did not care about the community, and, knowing what I knew of their unlawful behavior, I couldn’t stay.

This piece of public art was created for the Make Room organization in August. It will be installed with ten other pieces in DC this month, with a press conference in Freedom Plaza to kick off the exhibition on September 13th at 10:30 AM.

What: The Doors of Make Room, public art exhibition
Where: various locations throughout DC
When: September 13 through 28

The Doors of Make Room, Gwenn Seemel

Gwenn Seemel
Dirty Hands (Mayor Charlie Hales’ Legacy)
acrylic on fiberglass door
78 x 35 inches

The focal point of this composition is the two enormous piles of dirt that loomed over my building’s playground in 2014 and 2015. They were there for more than six months without any coverings or other dust mitigation tactics. They remained until my partner and I started asking about them, and then one of them was left there for an additional seven weeks while we asked more questions. It was only after a whole lot of effort from us that the toxic dirt was removed.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Bob Ball, Joel Andersen, Nancy Hales, Tiffany Sweitzer, Doug Shapiro, Kevin Parrett, David Sweet, Paul Van Orden, Kathy Couch, Homer Williams, Dike Dame, Mark Bruun

detail image of Dirty Hands

The people who allowed these piles to pollute the neighborhood and who made it so that there were always at least five active construction projects in a three-block radius for years are portrayed in this piece in a sun made of money that hangs over the community. The then-Mayor Charlie Hales is at the center, on a coin that reads “in money we trust.” Beginning with the man directly above him and going clockwise, the Portland power players are as follows:

Before deciding to include these people in this painting, my partner and I spoke with many of them directly in 2013, 2014, and 2015. We asked them to proceed with their projects in a way that didn’t harm the community unduly, but they dismissed us as NIMBYs. Worse still, they saw us NIMBYs who live in affordable housing and should therefore be grateful enough to put up with anything they wanted to do to us.

- From childless to childfree / De sans enfant à childfree
- The legacy of Mayor Charlie Hales
- Watching and acting

CATEGORIES: - English - Events - Featuring artists - Practice - Process images - Video -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(3) Comments / Commentaires: Community is at the core of everything we do.

-- Jane Wolfe -- 2018 . 09 . 02 --

Love seeing this video of how you created the door come space, and the story behind it. You nailed it Gwenn!

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-- Libby Fife -- 2018 . 09 . 03 --


It’s interesting that so many negative things happen in the supposed interest of helping people and building a better community. There always seems to be a tradeoff that is bad for one group and good for another. I live near Sacramento where not that long ago a huge new sports/entertainment stadium was built. Sacramento has a tremendous housing shortage and many people are affected, icluding people who are homeless. That stadium pisses me off every time.

Anyway, I appreciate seeing the process of your door being painted and hearing your words about your struggle with the city. It’s heartening to hear about the things you did to try and make the situation better.

Thanks for the post,

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-- Gwenn -- 2018 . 09 . 09 --

@Jane: Thank you so much!

@Libby: I’m so tired of being called a NIMBY just because I’m asking for things to be done differently. I’m not a “Not in My Back Yard” person. I’m a “Do It Ethically in My Back Yard” type. DIEIMBY? smile

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