Gravel - Cycle Oregon

ODOT maintenance crews paint over Brett Jarolimek memorial

Posted by on December 6th, 2007 at 3:36 pm

[Updated: 12/7, 10:15am]


This painting of the late Brett Jarolimek
has been covered over by maintenance crews.

I just heard from a reader that maintenance crews (from ODOT) have painted over the stencil of Brett Jarolimek that was on the underpass at the intersection of N. Interstate and Greeley.

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise (after all, it was technically vandalism), but in a way I feel it’s too bad that it could not have been saved.

The good news is that I spoke with the artist who did the stencil and he expressed interest in going through the official process to create an permanent memorial painting at that location.

I hope to bring you news of that when it happens.

NOTE: I initially had the title as “City paints over…” but have now confirmed that it was ODOT maintenance crews who painted over the stencil. Here’s a follow-up story with a response from ODOT.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Mmann December 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    And that, in a nutshell, is what\’s wrong with beauracracies and always doing it by the book.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spencer December 6, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    What is the status of the white bikes?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd B December 6, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Or perhaps this stencil should lead the way to other \’unsafe\’ intersections…a ghost/ angel rider of sorts.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bikealicious December 6, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    You are effing kidding. Wow. What a statement of our progressive city: 1 step forward, 5 steps back. That is really really sad. I hope they clean up the litter /abandoned/white bikes too.

    PR cleanup in Aisle 1.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Me 2 December 6, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Up until a few years ago, I would have understood this. But now I see so many crosses on roadsides to remember those who died in car accidents that are left untouched by various transportation departments. It somehow smacks of the view that the life of a dead cyclist was somehow worth less than that of a dead motorist.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phil Hanson (aka Pedalphile) December 6, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    It\’s too bad that what qualifies as real art can\’t be preserved while taking the necessary steps to remove that which is not.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • erin g. December 6, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    This is an absolute shame. I\’m so very sad to see this news, but I hope that the artist succeeds in his effort to \”legally\” restore the memorial artwork. Had I seen someone taking a paint-roller to that beautiful stencil, I probably would have been arrested for attempting to prevent the action. The thought of watching the destruction of art born of pure love and absolute grief would have been too much for me to take as someone who cares deeply about art and its connection to the human spirit. May the memorial stencil live again at that very site. My thoughts go out tonight to the artist, his friends, and to all who are mourning the loss of Brett Jarolimek, and to all who are working to preserve his memory in creative, warm, forward-moving ways.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Metal Cowboy December 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Come on! I went by it today and just shook my head. It was the best daily reminder to drivers, cyclists, everyone of what still needs to be done and did a little bit to help people slow down and be more attentive, I hope it will get added back whether through proper channels or by the artist going down and adding it on his/her own. It was done with stencil by Dajerk? Right?

    On a related subject Chris Heap and myself have run into a roadblock for filing one of the citation violation prceedings forms –

    The effort to cite Lisa/Teresa Wheeler is stalling, and We need help. The PPB did not adequately record Wheeler\’s address, which is information required to file the citation complaint. Is there
    anyone willing to do some leg work – or anyone who knows this person. We will reach out to the witnesses but if you have a current address for her or a way to find it please get in touch.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • girl on a bike December 6, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I wonder if the Bike Gallery in Hollywood would consider letting the artist repaint the stencil on one of their exterior walls? I noticed a few weeks ago they had a window space dedicated to him. It\’s not only a lovely commemorative piece, it\’s also just really cool looking bike art. Somebody call Jay and ask!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR December 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    the grafitti nazis strike again

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR December 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    I guess that should actually be:

    the anti-grafitti nazis strike again

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dr December 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Yea, I drove by today and saw the stencil was gone! I pass by this spot often and find the fact that the city painted over the stencil pretty shameful. In my opinion was art that went far above and beyond common graffiti or tagging.

    Would love to see this go up at the Bike Gallery….
    (or, back up in it\’s original, rightful, location).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Caroline December 6, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Jeepers. Might I suggest a giant \”graffiti art removal\” \”pixelated\” rendition of Brett next? Something striking but yet, camo?

    I\’ll be setting out fresh fake flowers tonight. Hopefully the bikes are there!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mark C December 6, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    I too am sad to see that this particular stencil was painted over, but I can also see why it was if it was not properly approved and authorized. What is \”art\” to one person is \”graffiti\” to another, and I don\’t think it\’s right to paint on a blank wall without the owner\’s permission – no matter how well intentioned.

    I hope proper approvals can be secured or the stencil added to the Bike Gallery, or better yet both!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Grimm December 6, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Mark, I believe it was on a pillar to a freeway. So the city or state owns it, and so really it public property. And its in an area that is rather bland and without any home or businesses immediately next to it, so it not like it was hurting anyone making their block look shabby. As far as graffiti goes I thought it was a nicely executed piece that actually had a meaning behind it (compared to people who just vandalize hoping to make a name for themselves).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ena December 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Hey Metal Cowboy,

    I responded to an email from Chris today about calling the witnesses. I will do it tomorrow and Saturday for sure.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zaphod December 6, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    The art needs to return to that spot.

    I imagine that pdot/city of pdx would allow the image to remain if it was requested. If they thought for a moment, they\’d realize the bad PR they\’d get by refusing. I could be wrong but it\’d be few minute call, letter or email as an investment, plus the repainting itself. Worth a go?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jim O\'Horo December 6, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Metal Cowboy RE #18:

    If you have the report, it should contain her driver\’s license #. She can be traced through the state files.

    Keep after her.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Curt Dewees December 6, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Check out Jonathan\’s report from Dec. 5: Some folks are going to try (again) at the next Oregon Legislative Session to enact \”Eric\’s Law,\” which would allow for roadside memorials for cyclists killed by car drivers.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • sherry December 6, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Shouldn\’t the City of Portland, or Oregon Department of Transportation, or Portland Department of Transportation, or whoever painted over this…
    shouldn\’t \”they\” be concentrating their efforts on more harmful types of \”graffiti\”, such as all the GANG graffiti that I see up and down Powell Blvd? (or maybe it\’s just dumb wannabe graffiti) but still it is UGLY (and a higher priority in my opinion).

    Maybe that is why neighbors/volunteers have to work so hard (much more so than paid government workers) to improve our neighborhoods.

    Yeah! get involved!
    Volunteer to clean up vandalism…while paid government officials clean up memorials, -er, I mean….vandalism!

    * * * * *

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donald December 6, 2007 at 11:33 pm


    Just this weekend I drove by there along with my wife and two toddlers on our way to the model train show up on Vancouver.

    As I groused about the debris in the bike lane, my wife commented that she hadn\’t been past the site since Brett\’s death. In the back, my two year old said \”Bike!\” and my three year old said \”he sees the bike picture!\”

    I\’ll give a universal benefit of the doubt and guess that the actual hands that did the paintover had doubts of their own.

    But the loss of this image is a loss to the community. And I wish strength to those who seek to fix it and will happily pledge money to same.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter Cornell December 7, 2007 at 7:19 am

    If it\’s a stencil as I understand it, this should be easy to put back up. I volunteer to play lookout and pay the ticket for anyone arrested for putting the memorial back up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steve December 7, 2007 at 9:25 am

    I\’m with Peter, in fact, why stop with just one…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steve D December 7, 2007 at 10:00 am

    This really irks me. I\’m glad that this moving memorial to Brett is a stencil, and hope for it\’s reappearance.

    I was able to see it from the Max on the way out to PIR last weekend for the USGP Cyclocross race- I thought about Brett the whole ride. I hope it reappears somewhere, even if it is an \”approved\” spot or spots. Viva Brett!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh December 7, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Write to Sam…demand to know why it was removed…I just did.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Vance December 7, 2007 at 10:25 am

    \”Technically vandalism\”. Um, ya. There\’s no, \’technical\’, about it there sparky. I used to stencil the phrase, \”Go Back Where You Came From\”, all over town, only to end up in jail for it. Turns out there is a reason it is illegal to deface public property with whatever you liberal sheep want to scrawl on it.

    Furthermore, this guy died attempting something that most children are successful doing everyday. Riding his bike somewhere. Why the homage? Here is a sterling example of what happens to people when their head is somewhere other than the task in front of them. You know, like gawking at graffiti.

    I ride through that area everyday. Have for 25 years. I survived. Hundreds rode through that area, that day. They survived. Yet the one guy who COULDN\’T make this happen gets an homage? A tribute?

    Let me just get this straight now. If you keep your mouth shut and ride your bike, you get a bunch of Californians painting dangerous lines all over the right-of-way. But if you die doing something that thousands of other people do safely everyday, you get a memorial?

    With priorities like that, no wonder your little, \’cycling community\’, can\’t get any traction.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jeff TB December 7, 2007 at 10:38 am


    How is the \”traction\” on your \”Go Back To Where You Came From\” campaign? I think that we\’re doing a little better.

    The rest of your arguement is too flawed to comment on.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • chris December 7, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    paint it again. same spot.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig December 7, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Its a State Bridge and run by ODOT. The city of Portland doesn\’t have anything to do with this. ODOT isn\’t actually in jive with Portland, I don\’t expect to see this back any time soon.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • craig durkee December 8, 2007 at 2:51 am

    tricky one ….. may the memory of the cyclist live on forever

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • anonymous December 8, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    I along with one other close friend of Brett\’s are responsible for the creation of the stencil of him. I am heartened to see that it has had so much of an impact on people in the community. We knew it would\’nt last forever, but I hoped it might last a little longer than it did. With that said we are going to be working on ways to give it a permanent legal home- hopefully where he was killed. It was a stencil so it can repainted anywhere ,anytime we choose. We will see his image return soon enough. Thanks everyone

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • petenik December 9, 2007 at 1:23 am

    right on, anonymous. you guys did it right, in the right place. hope you get it back exactly where it was.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • zilfondel December 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    City Repair broke and stretched a lot of city rules to be able to paint the intersections of inner-SE Portland. Ground-graffiti? They were able to put in place a process that allows neighborhoods to legally install that kind of art.

    This got me thinking – wouldn\’t it be awesome if we painted ALL of the freeway supports on the eastside with huge bike murals and memorials? Maybe even ones of ol\’ geezers cartin\’ a pack of highlife home in the snow… 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Here is 56 December 10, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Stencil artist: I am hoping the Overlook Neighborhood Assn to back getting approval for the stencil to be a permanent memorial. Calls are in to ODOT community affairs and Commissioner Adams Office as well as Tina Kojek, legislative rep.
    Any other help you may need, call the news intern at the Mercury, she can get you in touch with me.
    Good luck and I look forward to seeing the image again.

    Recommended Thumb up 0