Portland artist destroys own mural after billboard covers part of it

PORTLAND, Ore. - A public mural downtown is stirring up some community controversy, but not for the reasons you might think. The mural has neighbors, and some local artists all riled up.

On what's known as "Block 15" in the Pearl District, at the back side of a parking lot on the corner of Northwest 10th and Northrup you'll find a colorful painted mural.

Hoyt Properties gave local artist, "Klutch," permission to paint a temporary 130-foot mural on a plywood canvass in a parking lot that will eventually be developed.

"He wove the green part through. And then the braided red," explained Chuck Brimmer.

Brimmer watched the mural come alive with his partner, Dave Robertson, as they walked through the parking lot from their apartment in the Pearl.

"You didn't know what it was going to look like and then it just sort of blossomed into something else," Robertson said.

Klutch has been making street art for three decades. KATU News reporter Hillary Lake contacted him on Facebook. He initially said he didn't want to do an interview about the mural. Then he said he'd send a statement, which KATU is still waiting to receive.

"He just did something great for our neighborhood, and now it's turned into something bad and that's tragic," Brimmer said.

That's a reference to a huge billboard that the organizers of an event called "Whiskeyfest" put up over part of Klutch's mural.

"Whiskeyfest" will be held on May 9-10 in the same parking lot where the mural stands. That event rents the space from Hoyt Properties.

"I think it's unfortunate because I know the artist put a lot of time into the mural, but again, this lot is also used to host the 'Whiskeyfest.' That's another great thing in the Pearl as well. It attracts a lot of people from the neighborhood," said Robertson.

In a twist, Klutch then destroyed his own art with a graffiti style message. The message read, "Whiskeyfest ruined this mural with their mania for NASCAR over-branding. Who puts a billboard over a mural? Money ruins everything good in this world."

Someone also started a blog about the controversy, which tells this story. Klutch said he is not behind the blog, although it incorporates photos from his Instagram account.

Klutch's graffiti message has since been painted over. It's unclear who painted over it.

Regardless, Robertson and Brimmer said they're disappointed at the turn of events.

"It was only going to be a temporary work of art, but a work of art nonetheless," said Robertson.

Whether it's Klutch's art, the Whiskeyfest billboard, or Klutch's graffiti, it got people talking. And it brought life to what Robertson and Brimmer call a dull spot in the Pearl.

KATU News reached out to Hoyt Properties and to Whiskeyfest about this story. We are waiting to hear back.