A Memorial for John Callahan
FINALLY, A MEMORIAL THAT MAKES PEOPLE LAUGH
John Callahan was a cartoonist, musician, artist, author and quadriplegic blessed with a vivid mind and a piercing sense of humor.
Raised in The Dalles, Oregon, he suffered a body-boggling auto accident at the age of 21, and spent the last half of his life in Northwest Portland. Prolific, his cartoons appeared in more than 200 publications. John spawned ten books, records, art shows, two animated TV series, and a biographical film. Spending 12 hours a day in bed and the rest in the discomfort of a wheelchair, John’s output is a matter of genuine wonder. One of few Portlanders with global ambition and reach, he departed this mortal coil with millions of fans planet wide. His profound absence has inspired our effort to commemorate John’s time among us.
Following John’s 2010 death, the Friends and Family of John (FFOJ) was formed and the effort to create a memorial began.
The John Callahan Memorial will be built in a small landscaped pocket park between Saint Marks Parish, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center and NW Marshall Street in Northwest Portland. The site is owned by Legacy and will be open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Memorial will include a vertical structure - “The Wall of John”, a display of numerous cartoons and musings by the infamous author. It will include a brief biography and portrait of John as well as numerous quotations by the likes of President Bill Clinton, Richard Pryor and others. The materials within the Memorial will be of the highest quality, appropriate for the public realm and easy to maintain. In addition, the existing site will be enhanced through new seating, landscape materials and lighting.
Special attention will be paid to ensure that the Memorial will be physically accessible and maneuverable by all. In addition, the Memorial is located just one block from Legacy’s Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, where John spent many hours speaking with patients about the challenges they were facing. Legacy intends to use the Memorial as a teaching tool for those who are newly physically challenged.
The Memorial is being designed by urban designer Jesse Stemmler along with assistance from Tad Savinar and John Laursen. John and Tad’s last design project was the Oregon Holocaust Memorial sited in Washington Park.
A Callahan Reader
Callahan has a great, uncompromising way of lookng at life … . His cartoons are deadly.
When you see someone laughing like hell and saying ‘that’s not funny.’ you know they’re reading John Callahan.
Callahan was a Portland son, and few who met him were left untouched by his wit, his courage and his complete genuineness.
He was an equal-opportunity offender — liberals, conservatives, women, men, Catholics, corporate America.
Rumor is correct! I am a Callahan fan! Thank you so much for the great Callahan cards. My favorite one, naturally, is “Look at the ass on that bitch!”
Your kindness and consideration is sincerely appreciated.
My only compass for whether I’ve gone too far is the reaction I get from people in wheelchairs, or with hooks for hands. Like me, they are fed up with people who presume to speak for the disabled. All the pity and the patronizing. That’s what is truly detestable.