The explanation for this picture is complicated. Stop reading now if you value highly every second of your life.
- Mike McMenamin tells me that the new pub at S.W. 12th and Stark will be called "Cafe Zeus".
- Why? Because a woman named Tillie Zusman worked at this place in the 1950's when it was called "The Desert Room". Her husband's nickname for her was "Zus". And so the new pub will probably be named after her.
- But in order to avoid confusion about how to pronounce the name, we'll also name it after the Greek god, Zeus.
- So this is Tillie as a female version of Zeus, and the hotel building at 12th and Stark, along with the Annex building next to it comprise her throne. Ever since I first saw this wedge-shaped set of buildings, I've imagined a giant woman using it as a kind of shoe-shine or pedicure stand.
- Mike also would like the identity and imagery of this new location to tie in somehow with the company's other places in the area, especially the Crystal Ballroom up the street.
- So Zeus/Tillie is also masquerading as a 1940's female version of the Crystal Ballroom Jester.
- The Jester is juggling the planet Jupiter, to reinforce the whole Zeus connection.
- In Greek mythology, the lustful Zeus was always masquerading as someone or something else in order to have his way with whatever mortal female or male caught his fancy.
- All this masquerading and unrestricted hedonism, as well as certain familiar themes in ancient Greek culture, are entirely consistent with the history of the hotel building at 12th and Stark.
- Because of the diligent research of Tim Hills, the rich, colorful history of this building seems to have oozed out of its walls. We would otherwise never know about Tillie or a score of other fascinating Portland characters. So I have Tillie on her throne as an apparition emerging from "History's Clock" on the wall, below the bemused gaze of a pipe elbow.
- Zeus supplies her own electricity, of course, so that's why the electrical cords are snipped.
Until now, I've normally done acrylic paintings for a location and then when we wanted to use the images for advertising or marketing, I've used photographs of the paintings to develop the digital files that are used by printers. This time I finally managed to work the other way around. This digital painting will be the basis of a future acrylic painting. All the elements of the image, including the black and white line art underneath it all, are separate parts of a giant Photoshop file on my computer. So right away the company has a cluster of usable graphics associated with the new hotel and pub. The entire full-color picture can be used, or the line drawing of Jupiter or of Tillie or of the buildings can be plucked out separately as black and white graphics. Of course we still don't know if any of this will be deemed worthy of presentation to the beer-drinking public. If not, that's too bad, but now I'm working on the next picture.
About the author: Lyle Hehn is one of our McMenamins artists and has been with the company since 1988.