July 21st, 2006 5:33 pm | by MARK BAUMGARTEN Music | Posted In: Columns, News

Portland's First Smith Memorial to be Unveiled Today

Lincoln High Smith MemorialSo what if Keith Brown was in kindergarten when Elliott Smith gave the world Roman Candle? The former Lincoln High School student didn't need to be the same age as Smith to be affected by his words. On the contrary, Brown, who just graduate this last spring, lived in a world that was colored with Smith's imagery. See, Brown, like many of us, loves Smith's music. And while some might doubt the worth of that, they'll likely shut up come Friday, July 21 at 3 pm when Brown reveals his brainchild, a bronze Smith memorial (left), that will hang in his and Smith's former school. Brown told Local Cut via email why he decided to honor Smith, who died of an allegedly self-inflicted knife wound in October 2003. Brown explains:

I just graduated from Lincoln this year and have no connection to Elliott Smith other than having been really affected by his music. The memorial was my idea, to have a visible mark left on the school in memory of his time there, all that he accomplished, and the effect he's had on so many students there. So few students, even fans, had any idea he had attended there (and even recorded a Heatmiser track on the stage).

I commissioned a bronze plaque through Just Right Awards, student artist Dash Robb and I designed it (after a meeting of fans voted on the lyric and image), and the student Executive Council funded it. I presented the idea to now former principal Peter Hamilton last winter: He was receptive although he hadn't heard of him (it may have helped that his own secretary perked up at the name's mention and lauded him). I found his father's number in an old directory and got in contact and he graciously approved and has helped out all along. Since then, it's been pretty smooth sailing although there was concern about the placement of the memorial and whether this would cause a slippery slope of memorials. But it's up now, which I think makes it the first memorial in Portland.

This kid's got tenacity, a respect for the dead and is capable of ethical contemplation. Have you thought about going into politics, Keith?

The unveliing will take place at Lincoln High School, Friday, July 21st. 3pm. (Go through the west side doors of the building at 16th Avenue and Salmon Street).

Read more about this memorial here.

Elliott Smith fansite: sweetadeline.net

Image: A sketch of the memorial. Provided by Keith Brown.
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