Saturday, May 31, 2008


We were introduced to Maryetta Jacques who lives next door to the empty lot on NE 15th avenue. Here is what Ryan and I found out:

Maryetta was born in Palo Alto, CA

She has one sister, Emily, who is a country singer.

Her parents moved to Ashland, OR when she was very young.

They wanted to lead a calmer life that included a house and garden.

Mom teaches special education.

Dad is a longer story but in short, an artist.

Sadly, mom and dad divorced.

Dad is very sick: Heart and Lung disease.

Maryetta went to Portland State University when she was 18 years old.

Her undergraduate studies were in Sociology and Psychology and art classes.

She met her husband Matt in a Painting class at PSU.

She dressed in uncomfortable clothes to get his attention.

She told her friend she was going to marry him before they ever dated.

It took four years for them to finally go on a date together.

They moved to Seattle after they finished undergraduate school.

They had an apartment near Pike Place Market.

Getting fresh food at the market everyday got her interested in growing food.

Matt went to Mexico for a project.

Maryetta moved back to Portland.

The house they live in now, on NE 15th, Matt had already bought when they met.

She was grossed out by it and wanted him to sell.

She is happy they didn’t.

A man peed his name on the sidewalk once when she was hosting a dinner.

Maryetta and Matt have a lovely garden and backyard.

It is in constant evolution.

It used to be covered in blackberry bushes.

They did everything themselves.

They have four chickens

One of These Chickens Is Illegal

The legal limit of chickens in the city is three.

She and Matt wanted it to be an oasis for their children, when they had them.

The empty lot next door used to belong to the neighbors.

Maryetta started a community garden and art gathering space there.

Community Garden

Maryetta and Matt have a daughter named Sophia.

Maryetta feels that she appreciates life a lot more because of Sophia.


She says it’s harder than it looks.

She likes to ride her bike with Sophia on the back.

Once she saved people from a house fire.

She broke down the door of the house next door.

She had to wake up her neighbors because they passed out from smoke inhalation.

She said it all happened very fast.

Fox News called her “Hero Mom”

People drive too fast down 15th Ave.

Her cat got out and was run over.

Maryetta got a MFA at Portland State University in 2006.

Her concentration is painting, but has been drawn to sculpture.

Sculpture articulates her ideas better, sometimes.

She feels that she took a lot out of Graduate school.

She also feels that Graduate school took some of her joy and enthusiasm out of her creating.

She wants to get back in making more art.

Since her daughter is growing, she wants to concentrate on her personal endeavors as an artist.

She hopes that people in the Alberta neighborhood will continue to take risks.

She wants to see a community garden space again.

She likes to look out her window and see something beautiful.

The family

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 21st

Last Wednesday we all met at the lot and discussed the primary results from the election the day before. It seemed that all of the people in attendance that day were Obama supporters, so the discussion was enthusiastic. People seemed indifferent by the fact that our mayor elect was a gay man. Not indifferent in a negative way, but no one really had much to say on the topic. We all walked down to Earl's again and talked to him about the election results. He was happy that Obama won and upset that Sho Dozono lost the mayoral bid, but he had a "what can you do about it?" attitude toward it.
Earl told us of a Barbershop down on 13th and Alberta to check out. Most of the people in there were very young and I thought it was nice to hear from people of our age range from that neighborhood. After we went into that barbershop Harrell told us that when he initially went in there to ask them if it was ok if we all came in, they asked who he voted for and they were surprised to hear that he voted for Obama. They had wanted Sho to win. Businesses really liked Sho.

Friday, May 16, 2008


On Wednesday the 14th, I walked north from the lot to the Habitat for Humanity office on Killingsworth and 14th. I sat down with Ron who told me a lot about the organization. He is the construction supervisor of the Portland branch. He said that 70% of labor put into a house's construction is volunteer. He said that the city of Portland is very involved with their process and gives them incentive for creating sustainable housing. Habitat is going to be building two houses this summer that use a plethora of sustainable materials inside and out. He said HFH's concentration was to help below income/single families to purchase affordable homes.
Ron used to work in construction and mortgages, and before that he worked with teens in
Boise, Colorado, and California.
In their office a home owner of one of the HFH houses was there. Her name was Theresa and before she moved into her house she lived in an RV. She is happy to be out of substandard housing and into a safer, cleaner, and more affordable home. She says here overall quality of life has increased and she is happy to have the stability of a home to raise her child in.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Art Hop!

I thought everyone should want to know about this event on Alberta Street.

This year, the 9th Annual Alberta Art Hop will take place on Saturday, May 17th. This creative/cultural arts festival is put on by the street's local business owners and artists, coordinated by Art on Alberta. Together we create community through the power of the arts.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A lot of_______ project series-calandar

A lot of ________________
An event series with the PSU MFA Art and Social Practice Program.
3:00 PM, Every Sunday between MAY 18-JUNE 29
Neighborhood Projects (15th and Alberta)
Please join us for "a lot of _______," a series of convergences, experiments, collaborations, and
adventures initiated by the students of the PSU MFA Social Practice Program. Located at
Neighborhood Projects (15th and Alberta), just south of Alberta on 15th street, this series aims
to engage the surrounding neighborhood by providing a platform for communication and
collaboration. Each student in the program will take turns facilitating an event, every Sunday at
3pm from May 18th-June 29th.
Neighborhood Projects (15th and Alberta) is a vacant lot made available for use by local
architect Matthew Beitz. This lot is the future home of a movable off-site classroom for the PSU
MFA Social Practice program. The classroom is being designed by a group of PSU architecture
students under the direction of Beitz, owner and operator of quartertwenty design studio. The
classroom is scheduled to be complete for inclusion in this year’s TBA festival, organized by
“The new Art and Social Practice MFA at Portland State University is a two year program that
will educate and activate students to develop and utilize their artistic skills to engage in society
and transcend traditional studio art paradigms. Students will learn about a variety of working
artists and non-artists who have engaged in civic activity, and will apply their knowledge and
abilities to initiate, develop, and complete projects with the public - individuals, groups, and
institutions.” -Harrell Fletcher
For further inquiries into “A lot of __________” please contact
Cyrus W Smith
MFA Candidate
ongoing documentation @

The Schedule

Purple Rain
Varinthorn Christopher
May 18th
Pepsi Rocket Ship Moon Voyage Launch!
Host: Cyrus W Smith
May 25th
Meet and Greet BBQ
Hosts: Eric Steen &
Sandy Sampson
June 1st
Movement Exchange
Hosts: Amy Steel &
Eric Nordstrom
June 8th
A Lot of Strangers
Host: Avalon Kalin
June 15th
A Lot of Lids
Hosts: Laurel Kurtz &
Steve Beatty
June 22nd
Swap Meet
Host: Sandy Sampson &
Eric Steen
June 29th
THE Scavenger Hunt
Hosts: Katy Asher &
Tuey Burns

ongoing documentation @

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drawing concepts assignment

Hi all thank you so much for helping me today, you were great!
As you recall I gave an assignment (optional obviously) to go to the Tracy
site and browse the "research themes." There are many questions posed under each theme. I asked you to respond to one theme or one question, and illustrate your response with an example. This can be a drawing by you or someone else. Remember that YOU are the one defining "drawing" here!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Transcript of Jeremiah Wright at the press club

Hi all if you are (as I was) interested to know what Jeremiah Wright said at the national press club, HERE is the full transcript.

Friday, May 9, 2008

young activist poster zine

Hi all, I stopped in the Obama volunteer center today to sign up (my daughter is giving me two days of canvasing together for mothers day!) I talked to the gal, (I'm embarrassed, I want to call her Jen, but I know that's not her name!) who told us about the three boys who are making the posters, she is going to be canvasing with them this weekend and I asked her to ask them if they would be interested in making a zine of their posters and opinions. She said she thought they would be really into it. Does anyone else want to work on this project with me?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I found the follow up to "the cruise" i mentioned, it's called "live from shiva's dance floor"


A few weeks ago Summer and I went to the community cycling center to ask them about the mural on the side of the building. James, who works there, told us that it was painted two summers ago by a local artist named Robin Corbo. A car crashed into the side of the building in December 2007 and part of the mural was ruined and is now blank. I asked him who I should talk to for more information, and he gave me a CCC employee's email. She has yet to get back to me, but I'll wait.

Earl's and more

Yesterday the class began with a conversation on the current presidential race and its forecast. it was interesting to talk about the mail-in ballot system here in Oregon, and people seemed much more enlightened about it than i was. i mentioned the Obama volunteer center on Killingsworth and it was decided that we would drop in there. someone else mentioned that Earl's Barbershop on Alberta had an Obama sign as well, so we went there first. we didn't see any McCain or Clinton lawn or window signs in the neighborhood.

At Earl's Barbershop, Earl told us that he had been a barber for 26 years. He is originally from Louisiana, but moved to Oregon with his first wife. He studied Political Science at PCC in the 80s. We asked how his neighborhood has changed in the time that he has been here and he said that it was different and he liked that there were fewer gangs around. He had newspaper clippings, barber related posters and political signs, among other things, posted all over his walls and windows. When asked if he supported Obama he said "yes". He told us that he supported Sho Dozono's bid for the mayoral position because he feels he could bring more change and a fresher perspective to the office and Portland. He said that Adams has been around the Portland political scene too long.

There was a patron at Earl's Barbershop who was waiting his turn for a "makeover". His name was Claudius. He told us that he had been going to Earl's shop for 25 years. He said that he went there about twice a month, "or whenever I need a makeover". He said that the neighborhood has changed, and he isn't as worried about being around when its dark out. He lives on Broadway in NE though, and says that he likes it because the transportation and necessities of life are readily available.

We went to the Obama volunteer center on NE 15th and Killingsworth, just a few blocks north of the lot. I had mentioned the great handmade signs to Harrell and the class and everyone was really impressed by them. I asked them who made the drawings and they said a boy named Thomas made them. He liked to come into the office on his way home and draw the pictures. They were super.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Shape it Up Salon

I had my hair dyed by Roslyn Graham today at Shape it Up on Alberta. She "blended in the gray" which as she pointed out was "just enough to get on your nerves."

Roslyn was working back and forth between my dye job and something a little more complicated for Shirley, another customer. All told I was there for about an hour and a half. It was very enjoyable, lets face it just the fact of someone else washing your hair is amazing. But adding to that was the conversation, I don't mean to leave the boys out here, but there is something so great, refreshing and relaxing about being in a place that is there for women -not women with any agenda - just women. It made me realize that this has been missing for me over the last several years.

We started talking about female celebrities who marry much younger men. Apparently Maria Carey (sp?) is hooking up with a youngster, and we talked about Demi Moore.. Well mostly they talked about this at first as I'm not up on these topics (or people) but it all took a more philosophical bent when Shirley pointed out that you never know, sometimes people find love in unexpected ways, and that it seemed like Demi Moore and her husband really like each other, and that liking is what keeps people together after the lust has subsided.

We also talked about dance, hip hop (Roslyn attends an exorcise hip hop class regularly), and aging. How the mind remembers loving to dance and the body forgets.

We talked about motherhood, Roslyn has a thirteen year old daughter, so we discovered a lot of common ground around parenting adolescent girls (the blank stares, the mood swings) and how our ideas of discipline are very different from the girl's father's because we remember being young girls.

Shirley is a grandmother, from 3 children she has 8 grandchildren, the oldest is 20. She does not look anywhere near old enough to have a 20 year old grand child, and I told her so! She explained that she was really lucky because her children are good parents and don't expect her to take on a lot of responsibility. She talked about the idea that people die younger than they should because of all the stress, all the responsibility that is put on their shoulders, she said we weren't meant to be weighed down that way, and that is one way that her faith helps her. She trusts that the burden isn't hers to bear alone. I don't think I got that exactly right, but that is close. She also talked about the fact that women generally end up taking on the role of matriarch and bearing all the weight just because they live longer than the men.

We all talked about our grandmothers, and Shirley told about her grandmother who came in a caravan from Texas I think in the thirty's (I can't remember for sure) as a missionary to save the heathens in Oregon. She "big Mama" was born in 1910, the 24th and last child of her parents (only 17 survived) her mother was past 50 when she was born so she was raised mostly by her older siblings. Big Mama sounded amazing, she was the perfect grandma, even though she was really engaged in all sorts of activities Shirley remembers that she somehow was always there and always had time, she was always baking, (even sold) pies, and she was always totally put together, she mentioned stylish hats with feathers. Big Mama was very religious, but beyond making sure the grandkids always had a Sunday school to go to, she never pushed it, instead she showed by example. Shirley said she feels really lucky to have had such good role models in her life.

Roslyn and I both expressed admiration and a little envy.

We also talked about politics, we are all Obama supporters. Roslyn has received her ballot, but Obama wasn't on it. She said she didn't know who to call to find out why, I suggested she go to the Obama volunteer center to get some help. I'm going there Friday, so maybe I can get some information.

Towards the end of my appointment Shirley asked if I had a business near by, and at that point I explained the lot as best I could, and said that while we are in the neighborhood we want to do some neighborhood projects, I explained that we really can't do that until we learn about the neighborhood and figure out what the community wants. I asked them if they had any suggestions.

They both said that what the neighborhood needs is a little more diversity. Shirley mentioned an event that used to be annual about 10 years ago. It was like a neighborhood party, there was a little parade, there were local step teams, bar b q and music, and it was a great community event, a chance for everyone to get out and enjoy each other. When I asked, or bumbled around out loud wondering how I might help facilitate something like that, they understood what I was thinking. Shirley suggested I talk to the King school, and Roslyn gave me the name of her cousin who is a graduate of Jefferson dance, and works with the girls and boys club. Roslyn also said that anything with food and music would be a sure winner. They both stressed repeatedly the need for more diversity.