PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s no secret that between the nightly protests and the ongoing pandemic small businesses in downtown Portland have taken a financial hit. But a group of local artists are using their talents to support businesses — and provide some entertainment for your family.
The monthlong event called Winterland PDX, organized by Travel Portland, involves 14 local artists and about 2 dozen small businesses across the city.
Illustrator and artist Mike Bennett, one of the organizers for Winterland PDX, said it’s an opportunity to highlight “3 really amazing things” — highlighting BIPOC artists, using recycled house paint and putting the art into small business windows around Portland.
“There’s a lot of buildings with boarded up windows – which has become a necessary thing – but slowly but surely they’re coming down, which is great,” Bennett told KOIN 6 News. “We’re taking that wood and turning it into art.”
A restaurant or shop will display one of the lifesize pieces in their windowfront. A business and artist will be featured each day beginning December 1 and each day Winterland PDX will release a clue on Instagram to help you find that day’s painting.
Organizers say it will both inspire people to shop small and be a way to highlight local artists. Each of the artists chosen for this campaign is a member of the BIPOC community, including 5-year-old Sean Grundmeyer, who said he painted Mount Hood “because it looks pretty.”
Another artist, Emelia Halvorsen, said her painting shows a family cozied up around a fireplace. “I love the style of kind of 1950s artwork, but they never feature faces like mine, Asian Americans, so I like putting people who look like my family into that style.”
Her painting will be featured in the windows of Powell’s on Burnside, but the date is still a secret.
In January, each piece will be auctioned off online as a fundraiser for BIPOC youth organizations.
“There’s a lot of opportunities to shop small online so using shopsmallpdx.com we’re able to show these businesses off to anyone in our audience to check this stuff out,” Bennett said. “So let’s support our small businesses, the big boxes are going to do fine, they don’t need us right now.”