Gateway isn’t the only district experimenting with rebranding. “One of the things we’re trying to do in Parkrose is ‘place-making,’ to make the area feel like a cohesive neighborhood,” says Mingus Mapps from Historic Parkrose. “We wanted to integrate that building into the neighborhood, and the mural references Parkrose’s historic past. We were originally an agricultural neighborhood, and that tradition is still with us.”
Beginning in August and finishing in October, the vibrant mural speaks to Portland in general and its thematic farm-to-table cultural identity. “Another neat thing is that there is a tie-in between the farm and the grocery store, so we’re reminding people where their food comes from, and that’s important,” says Mapps.
The mural depicts a view from Rossi Farms (3839 N.E. 122nd Ave.) facing eastward toward Mt. Hood from, presumably, the turn of the 20th century. It dramatically represents a rainbow of crops with a few antique-looking farmers, along with a truck, mixing and matching at the mural’s forefront. These farmers could be the Rossis themselves.
Joe Rossi, of Rossi Farms, was influential in the design of the mural. But the mural owes Mark New, the developer of the Grocery Outlet building, for much of its progress. Mark is well known for planting murals on the sides of his buildings, mostly Grocery Outlets like this one. A similar mural depicting a neighborhood’s identity stands on one of his properties in St. Johns.
Coming in at a price tag of $14,000, New is paying for half of the mural, while Historic Parkrose picks up the tab for the other half. The price is aided by the acquisition of a Storefront Improvement Grant.
The current owner of the Grocery Outlet, though not one of the paying parties, was supportive of the mural from the building’s inception as a longtime member of the Parkrose community.
Mapps is excited to see the mural get off the ground running. “We have been working on this for almost a year, and we had a joint ceremony unveiling the mural on October 14,” says Mapps. “Neighborhood people showed up, and then we did a flower planting along Sandy Boulevard. We had 1,000 flower bulbs that the Parkrose Neighborhood Association got ahold of, and we planted them from the Grocery Outlet up to about 116th [Avenue].”
Young children were invited to plant bulbs with their parents at Senn’s Dairy Park at Northeast 112th Avenue and Prescott Street.
Mapps claims the mural and the flowers are steps toward “sprucing up the neighborhood.” Much like the Gateway area, with its plethora of various wayfinding and rebranding projects, Parkrose is seeing some small—but artistically significant—steps in a similar direction.
Asked if the mural, the only large-scale one of its type currently located in Parkrose, is here to stay, Mapps says, “It will be here as long as the building is here.”