Lewis Crutcher (1921-2000) was an architect and planner in Portland in the 1950s and 1960s. He created these amusing watercolors in 1958, describing them in this way:
Grand Canal, Ponte Rialto, Venice
During the 50s I was an architect in Portland, but had a chance to visit the famous cities in Europe. I took photos & slides of them, they were beautiful. But when I returned to Portland, I was disappointed. It was too cluttered with signs, billboards, bad trees, and cars.
So I lectured, and showed slides of the European cities and Portland, to city groups, and all the High Schools, and colleges. I was surprised that people didn’t want Portland to be compared with European cities.
Then I had an inspiration, I projected slides of Venice, London, and Paris onto large Water-Color pads, drew the scenes, then added “Portland”… signs, billboards, roof signs, parking meters, bare trees, cars, etc. etc. They were penned and water-colored, then photographed.
Those drawings were published by a national magazine, and Portland began to change. Within the next few years a lot happened. One block downtown was converted from a parking lot to the Town Square, now enjoyed by people & groups. Billboards were reduced, in town, and along the local highways, so people enjoy seeing the orchards, fields, even the mountains.
Antique brick buildings that were being destroyed for parking lots were preserved - now a nice part of downtown. The highway along the river was relocated, and it’s now a park. Lots of unnecessary signs were removed. Those sticking out into the street were placed against the buildings, and those on top of buildings were removed so Portland’s skyline is better.
Trafalgar Square, London
These three watercolors were in Doug Zuberbuhler's office until recently. Doug thought it would be nice for them to be on display somewhere, and he brought them to the VRC. I photographed them and added them to the digital image database before hanging them on the wall.
Drop by to visit the VRC and look at the originals of these humorous paintings!