Portland Comics Artist Damon Smyth Has Painted a New Mural on the Back of Broadway Grill & Brewery

Smyth is best known as an illustrator for graphic novels like “History Smashers: The Underground Railroad” and “The Life of Frederick Douglass.”

Portland comics artist Damon Smyth—best known as an illustrator of historical graphic novels—has painted a new mural on the back of Broadway Grill & Brewery in Northeast Portland.

Titled It Can’t Rain All the Time, the project was initiated by the Portland Street Art Alliance. “The opportunity to have full creative control when designing a mural doesn’t happen often, so I wanted to take the chance to create something meaningful that would make people think,” Smyth said in a statement.

The imagery in the mural is designed to showcase the ripple effects small acts of kindness. Smyth, who illustrated History Smashers: The Underground Railroad and The Life of Frederick Douglass (a collaboration with David F. Walker and artist Marissa Louise), chose shades of spray paint intended to have a calming effect on the viewer.

“There is an overwhelming amount of negativity everywhere these days, so I wanted to combat that with something positive for anyone who might need it,” Smyth said. “I believe empathy is one of, if not our greatest attributes, but sadly kindness doesn’t trend as easily. This was my opportunity to put kindness front and center.”

It Can’t Rain all the Time was funded by the owner of Broadway Grill & Brewery, a donation from the Northeast Broadway Business Association, and grants from Metro and the city of Portland’s Public Environment Management Office.

“One day, while I was setting up, I had a community member approach me with tear-filled eyes saying the main character looked just like someone they had known and how happy they were for this mural being created,” Smyth said. “These touching moments are exactly what this mural was intended for and the reason why I create the work I do.”

It Can’t Rain All the Time will be publicly unveiled at an event on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 pm.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.