It would have been another sleepy morning on my normal bus commute, except for the words that caught my eye on an orange construction fence atop a bluff overlooking the river and Cascade mountains. I couldn’t quite read all the blocky stenciled letters, but this was no advertisement, nor was it construction related. I was intrigued.
My return route from work doesn’t pass this fence, so I made a mental note to check it out the next day. Sure enough, with a little preparedness, I caught the whole phrase: “BEHIND THE VEIL OF MORNING FOG MT HOOD.”
I found it to be inspirational, mildly informative, and directive. It says to me: you might not see it, but there is beauty, and you should look for this mountain on a clear day. It took nearly two weeks, but eventually I did catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood silhouetted by the morning sun amidst the fog. I wondered how many motorists did the same.
I am an art and design fan anyway, but guerrilla art is even better. The unexpected and creative nature of “unapproved” art makes for an added level of joy over traditional art in expected locations. I was intrigued about the method the person used to stencil the fence. When did they do it? What was their motivation? Was the phrase part of a famous poem of which I was unaware? I asked around, but no one had heard of it, so I turned to the internet.
The answer came swiftly via a website called the Orange Lining (clear photo above is theirs). I soon discovered it to be the public art portal for a new light rail line here in Portland. The phrase, written by a citizen, was part of a larger public art project paid for by my tax dollars. This was definitively not guerrilla art at all.
The appeal of the phrase, and even the view seemed momentarily dulled by this revelation. I was looking at something manufactured. For a few days I felt disappointed that this was officially sanctioned, but as the weeks went by I came to appreciate that the thousands of commuters passing by each day had no clue.
For them, it was a dose of morning magic.