The 15th Street Bridge (left), had long been a haunt for gang-related graffiti.  The bridge is located in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.

The Walla Walla River's scenic south fork flows under this bridge. A grade school is only one block away in this residential neighborhood.
One year ago neighbors were shocked by a drive-by shooting. Efforts began to clean house.
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Artmaking is a response to "what's out there." And sometimes, quite frankly, "what's out there" simply needs to be changed. Art responds and, in the making, reactive art becomes proactive when it exerts pressure to change. The 15th Street Bridge Mural is my gift and contribution toward efforts to make the neighborhood a better environment in which to live.
----- C. S. Poppenga
What appears to be gang and drug-related graffiti covers the bridge support on both the river and shore sides (shore side shown at right.)
It's apparent that the County Road Department can not keep up with painting out graffiti.
And so, on one fine Saturday morning, this is the "canvas" I began with.
The entire transformation took about 35 hours (and at least twice as many hours thinking about it before beginning the painting.)
Most of the painting time was spent during the Saturday and Sunday at the start.

Here (at left) assistant Tom helps paint a block-out prime coat over the existing graffiti. Prior to this a nearby neighbor water hosed the wall to remove dirt and any loose particles.
Returning after the block-out prime coat had sufficiently dried,
I began dividing and taping off the wall in sections.  I created all the imagery free-hand and directly on the wall with brush and paint.


The mural progressed rapidly.
Here (at right) was only part way through the first day.
Keeping the images large and bold meant I could keep my assistant (left) busy painting blocks of solid colors while I continued to map out the entire mural.

In the jaguar (left) one can see how I continued to adjust the imagery even after the green background had been brushed in (as evidenced by the purple contour line of the jaguar taking in some of the green at the throat and ear.)
Photo (left)
shows the jaguar on the south end of the bridge at the finish of the first day.

Photo (right)
shows the same jaguar at the end of the second day.

Photo (below)
shows the visual effect layering orange over yellow has in full sunlight on the jaguar at the north end of the bridge.
Photo (left)
shows gang graffiti on the south side of the bridge decking.




Photo (right)
I added a simple design to cover the graffiti.
Photo (right)
The completed south end of the bridge.

Photo (below)
Moving north along the wall, the woman  rolling tortillas is based on a Diego Rivera work.
Photo (right)
Once I've brushed in my signature in the foliage at the south end of the wall, the 15th Street Bridge Mural is completed!
Photo (below)
Next to the north is a segment based on Van Gogh's "Starry Night."
Photo (below)
Next to the  "Starry Night" and in the center of the wall is the Lady of Guadalupe piercing the serpents with a staff.
Photo (left)
Next to the Lady of Guadalupe is a take-off on "Starry Night" - a stylized orchard scene with evening smudge pots aglow (the region has several tree fruit orchards that depend on migrant laborers.
Photo (right)
Next to the orchard scene is a segment based on another Diego Rivera work.  As in all the segments, the serpents weave their way from the jungle themes at the north and south ends of the wall until they meet in the middle beneath the feet of the Lady of Guadalupe.
Photo (left)
The north end of the bridge.


A SPECIAL NOTE:

The finishing touch on this mural was the addition of phosphorescing paint to certain areas of the mural. The commercial grade glow-in-the-dark paint is invisible during the day and permits the underlying color to be seen. But after sundown, certain elements, like the jaguars' eyes and the stars in the Lady of Guadalupe's robe (and her halo) for example, glow throughout the night.

MURAL INSPECTED IN 2010
NO VANDALISM OR GRAFFITI WAS FOUND.
The anti-graffiti sealant is either working or it is simply that no one wants to deface this work (I hope the latter is the case.)
The paint surface was in good condition.
C.S. Poppenga  -  ARTiculations   P.O. Box 28, Lewistown,  Montana  59457   Email: poppengacarol@hotmail.com