Photos of VanWa's Vancouver Arches, of which the city says: "These three brick arches were installed in 1984 to create a landmark for downtown Vancouver.". They're maybe not the most ambitious civic landmark ever, but hey. They're actually quite visible from Interstate 5 northbound into the city, so the designers at least got the location right. It's just that I always sort of assumed the arches belonged to a bank branch or an office complex or something.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
In this installment of the public art tour, we're looking at VanWa's Pioneer Mother, an Avard Fairbanks sculpture on the north side of Esther Short Park. Unusually, Pioneer Mother has an extensive Wikipedia page, which is great since I can just point readers there instead of doing a bunch of research myself. Fairbanks's work has appeared here a couple of other times, for monuments in Portland Firefighters Park and Milo McIver State Park, and I know of a couple of other public examples of his work around Portland that haven't made it into posts, such as the doors on the old US Bank building on SW Broadway.
The next stop on our ongoing public art tour is Contemplative Place by Michihiro Kosuge, located in Ed Benedict Park next to the skate park. The city's blurb about it says "A granite and basalt sculpture entitled Contemplative Place by Michihiro Kosuge was installed in 1996 at the west end of the park. Each of the four stones is placed to represent the four directions.". The RACC description has a bit more to say:
Kosuge describes “Contemplative Place” as establishing “a relationship between the stones and natural phenomena: the movement of the sun, the seasons, and an awareness of the cardinal directions, ”fostering “contemplation, spirituality, and quietude.” Each of the four stones is placed to represent the four directions.
Unfortunately the skaters next door were arguing loudly over something or other when I visited, so contemplation and quietude were not really being fostered at the time. And spirituality has never been my thing, so I have no idea whether that was being fostered or not. Your mileage may vary, obviously.
Next up is another bit of OHSU art, an untitled Bruce West sculpture in the Kohler Pavilion's sculpture garden. The university's wildly incomplete art page lists a different West sculpture titled Oregon Fabric. The page doesn't give a location, but it looks like it's indoors somewhere. (Also, the photo links on that page point at huge .TIF image files for some reason, so you might want to not click on them.)
The next bit of MAX art we're looking at is Gathering In/Gathering Rail by Christine Bourdette, at Hillsboro's Hatfield Government Center station, the far end of the Blue Line. The link above used to go to an RACC project page with a brief description of the art, but this part of the RACC website's been broken with a PHP script error for several months now, apparently without anyone noticing -- or figuring out how to fix it. So instead here's a hilarious page explaining why PHP is "a fractal of bad design".
Next up, we're back at the OHSU campus again, looking at a small fountain called The Three Graces, in the Kohler Pavilion's outdoor sculpture garden. The fountain was created by Oregon artist Bill Kucha, and is dedicated to the late Leonard Schnitzer.
Spencer T. Houser and Chris Rizzo present two approaches to the nearly 4,000-foot light rail bridge. Ninety flaming comets inspired by the car culture of the '50s blaze northward from Kenton. Blue metal panels on the north end of the bridge allude to the Columbia River.
I imagine the blue panels on the north end of the bridge are officially a separate piece with a different title, but I don't know what it's called, and I don't think I have any good photos of the panels right now anyway.
A mural I ran across inside an underground parking garage on SE 3rd between Yamhill & Taylor. I don't know anything else about this one, and as far as I can tell the rest of the internet doesn't either.
Mural outside La Calaca Comelona on SE Belmont. This is another one that's been in drafts for quite a while; I posted photos of another mural next door back in August of last year, which seemed late already because the photos were taken in January. Still, I'm fairly sure a year and a half in drafts isn't even a record here, but then I've never claimed to be a breaking news outlet. I take photos when I feel like it, and I post them when I feel like it, if I get around to it.
Mural outside the La Sirenita taqueria on NE Alberta, by Portland artist Pablo Garcia. He was actually busy painting it when I wandered by (which kind of tells you how long this has been floating around in my drafts folder). I suppose I could have stopped and said hi and asked a few questions or something, but I admit I'm not really in the interviewing business here at this humble blog. I've gone over a decade without ever doing one, and I don't think I'd be very good at it if I tried to start now. Even if I wanted to, which I don't, because antisocial.
Next up, a large mural outside the Albertina Kerr Center's Port City Gallery at N. Williams & Thompson. I managed to locate someone's Instagram photo of it that lists the artists who created the mural. It turns out several of them also worked on the Keep Our Rivers Clean mural on SE Powell.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I cut MAX art a lot of slack, possibly too much, but this one has always reminded me of a cheesy 1990s home decor knickknack grown to enormous size. This must have seemed like a good idea back in 1998 when the MAX line went in. I suppose the trophy fits because of the whole county fair thing (though I think the fair gives out ribbons, not trophies), but if you're really going for a giant 90s look, a 20 foot tall copy of one of those winged cat gargoyles would have been a lot cooler. Relatively speaking.
The next installment of our ongoing public art project is Heart Beacon, by Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock, located at the Emergency Services building next to Ed Benedict Park. The artists' description of the piece:
Heart Beacon is an interactive enclosure of light, color and sound that senses and artistically displays the heartbeats of visitors who lay their hands on the piece. This highly interactive sculpture takes the literal and metaphoric ‘pulse’ of the Portland community. The sculpture takes inspiration from the life-saving mission of the Emergency Coordination Center.
The heartbeat widgetry just made a weird banging noise when I tried it, and I didn't notice any sort of light show. But I didn't know what the device was for at the time, and I didn't see any instructions, so it's entirely possible I was doing it all wrong. Either that or I was doing it right but the machine got confused by my heartbeat and was trying to warn passersby that an alien walks among them. At least the heartbeat thing shows I'm probably not a vampire, so there's that, I guess.
Next thing we're looking at today is Three Creeks One Will, the giant blue cylinder in front of Beaverton's new City Hall building, next to the Beaverton Central MAX station. The city's Public Art Tour Map describes it:
The art of Devin Laurence Field brings together universal and archetypal symbolism, the vernacular of a given site or culture, and natural forms to communicate ideas about the evolution of the complex relationship between the built environment and the natural world.
The name sort of weirds me out, for some reason, even if the One Will isn't doing any triumphing. Anyway, the current City Hall building was once home to Open Source Development Labs, which was meant to become the center of the Linux operating system universe, putting Beaverton on the map next to Microsoft's Redmond and Apple's Cupertino. It turned out the Linux universe didn't really need or want a center, so that effort eventually fell by the wayside. And many years before that, the Beaverton Central area was home to a municipal sewer plant. The city eventually concluded that a centrally located sewer plant wasn't popular among people with noses (a key voting demographic), so they moved it and the land sat empty for a few decades until the long-troubled Beaverton Central project came along.
Next up is Intersection, a sculpture by Michael Passmore located at the SE Clinton/12th Ave. MAX station. TriMet's Orange Line art guide describes it: "Landmark sculpture constructed of repurposed freight rail references the historic impact of transportation infrastructure on the neighborhood."
A few photos of Aril, the tall red sculpture at the new PSU/OHSU lab building next to the South Waterfront MAX stop. Aril was created by German artist Christian Moeller, whose website describes it thusly:
The idea that served as inspiration for this sculpture on the grounds of the new Life Science Building of Portland’s State University was the highly geometrical and abstract visual representations of molecular structures. Like a tree, the sculpture will consist of a trunk and branches made of cylindrical tubes holding one hundred colored spheres.
A quick note for pedants: I've tagged this post "orangeline" since it's next to the new MAX line, but the sculpture was actually funded as part of the university building, not the MAX line. So it's not MAX art in the strictest sense, but I figured people should be able to find this post even if they don't know who paid for the art. I just thought I should point this out before anyone complains & tries to out-pedant me. Which does occasionally happen, never successfully..
Next up is a mural on the back of Portland State's Art Annex building, facing 4th Avenue near Lincoln. There doesn't seem to be anything about this one on the interwebs, unfortunately; the temporary art for the MAX Orange Line opening included a mural, but it was a different one located in the vacant lot behind the main art building.
Next mural up is titled Questions for Humans: Curiosity Wall, one of a series of four "Questions for Humans" murals by Gary Hirsch located around SE Portland (I have yet to locate the other three). This is an RACC-sponsored project, and their info page for the mural includes a set of user instructions:
Hello humans! We are Bots from a distant galaxy that have arrived with wonder and curiosity about your species. To help us understand humans, we have posed a series of questions throughout your city. Operating Instructions:
- Stand in front of a Bot and ask someone to take your picture (or take a “selfie”).
- Think about your answer to the question being asked by the Bot that you are posing with. when you have your answer, post it along with the photo of you in front of the Bot to your human social media platform of your choice (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) include #qs4humans and #botjoy. Check in online to see how the resulting community portrait is forming.
I'm afraid I kind of disobeyed the instructions, and just took photos of the mural instead of taking selfies, because that's just how I roll. The intergalactic bots are just going to have to deal.
Next up is a gigantic mural on a warehouse at SE 7th & Division Place (though the street address says 8th). This was created last year by New Zealand artists BMD, in honor of the annual World Naked Bike Ride, which has become a huge event in Portland in recent years. I realize you didn't ask, but I've never participated in said ride. It's not that I'm squeamish or embarrassed or anything; it's just that I'd be too afraid of crashing -- road rash, stuff getting caught in gears, that sort of thing.
Mural at SW 12th & Stark, by by Troy Lovegates & Paige Wright. Wright also created one of the murals at SE 23rd & Morrison for the 2014 edition of the festival. I had this one confused with the nearby mural at 12th & Washington and had the artists backwards, but I think I've got the credits right now, & I've corrected the other post.
Mural at SE 11th & Oak by Blaine Fontana & David Rice, on the same building as a couple of other murals we've looked at before. Similar to how some people can't stop with just the one tattoo, I guess. Though I imagine these buildings will be torn out and replaced with luxury condos in a few years, and the analogy sort of breaks down at that point.
Next up is a giant mural of the words "Nothing Good Comes Easy", on the upper stories of a building at SE Grand & Pine. This was created for the 2015 Forest for the Trees event by Ola Volo & Zach Yarrington. I'm not a huge fan of the "ginormous motivational affirmation" style of mural, but they've been proliferating across the city in recent years, so obviously someone likes them.
Next up is a 2015 Forest for the Trees mural by Josh Doll, located way out at SE 50th & Franklin, a couple of blocks north of the Foster & Powell intersection. I'm not usually a big fan of murals that feature big sorta-inspirational sayings, but this one gets partial credit for including a dog. This area isn't exactly suburbia, but the intersection does feature a Taco Bell, a Taco Time, and a Burger King -- and I have to admit I ran across the mural by accident while making a drive-thru taco run. I realize Real Portlanders are supposed to eat nothing but artisanal kale-quinoa nuggets, washed down with artisanal kombuchatinis. Corporate tacos are just so downscale and inauthentic, after all. But hey, this is a pseudonymous blog, I can admit it here and nobody can pin it on me.
A 2015 Forest for the Trees mural by Insa, John Gourley, & Zach Johnsen, located on the back side of the Ford Building at SE 11th & Alder. The building was originally a Ford car factory (albeit a rather small one), believe it or not.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
To be honest I'm sort of trying to decide whether to just bulk post the contents of my drafts folder as-is, just so I can stop stressing over it.
Sunday, March 06, 2016
Next mural up is a large sunflower design on SE 9th, between Ash & Ankeny, outside an educational carpet company (which is something that exists, turns out). This was created in July 2013 by Jose Solis (the FB post's external photo embed looks dead, unfortunately). Solis's work has appeared here once before: He also created the murals at SE Portland's Andy & Bax store.
Saturday, March 05, 2016
Here's a mural I ran across recently on Mississippi Ave. just north of Interstate, at the end of a fenced lot on the Widmer Brewing campus. I haven't been able to find out anything about this one. The internet has failed me yet again. Maybe nobody else has noticed it?
Yet another painted intersection, this one wayyyy out at SE 130th Place & Ramona, a bit west of Powell Butte. Unfortunately this one's a bit worse for wear, so I only took this one photo. An artist involved in the project has a page up about it, with photos from when the book-and-butterfly design was first painted in May 2013.
Another painted intersection, this time a fish-and-rainbow design at SE 37th & Bybee. 37th is not really a street here, rather just a stretch of unused city right-of-way. So the intersection is basically a weird wide spot in the road with an island in the middle. The 2015 City Repair guide explains they've been slowly transforming the unused stretch of 37th into a "food forest and garden" over the last few years. I didn't really notice anything that looked like a food forest or garden when I was there, but gardens are never very photogenic in late winter anyway.
Painted intersection with a flowers-and-bees pattern at SE 86th & Glenwood, a couple of blocks south of Duke St. This is another new painted intersection, first painted in June 2015, sponsored by a couple of local community groups.
Painted intersection at SE 28th Place & Pardee, next to a small private school. This one looks quite old and beat up, but apparently it was just painted in July 2015. So I suppose the winter hasn't been kind to it. The link goes to the neighborhood association's painting project & shows what the design is supposed to be: A woman riding a bike, with buildings and trees in the background.
Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Here are a few photos of OHSU's Alumni Fountain, located in the plaza in front of Mackenzie Hall. A plaque at the base explains that it was a gift from the alumni association for the school's 75th anniversary in 1962, and it was designed by architect Lewis Crutcher. The fountain wasn't actually installed until August 1963, though; an Oregonian article about the new fountain proudly noted it was the first new public fountain in the city for over 40 years (and what the previous one might have been doesn't come to mind immediately). The article continues:
Pumps will send a 25-foot gusher into the air, then the water will flow back into the basin through 10 cuts in the upper side of the fountain, so there will be a dual sound. Colored lights will play upon the fountain at night.
The fountain is clearly not sending a 25-foot gusher into the air in these photos. OHSU has some vintage photos of the fountain online, and it was obviously spraying higher in 1968 than it is now. So they must have dialed it back at some point. Looking at the old photos, I suspect you wouldn't have wanted to walk past it on a windy day. I haven't visited the fountain at night, so I have no idea whether the colored lights are still there or not.
I wasn't familiar with Crutcher's work, but the interwebs have a few interesting tidbits. His 2000 obit in the Daily Journal of Commerce is largely devoted to his 1950s campaign against garish billboards and neon signs, cluttered sidewalks, and other civic ugliness. As this was decades before PowerPoint was invented, Crutcher illustrated his campaign with watercolors of European landmarks blanketed with the commercial clutter of 1950s Portland. The February-March 1959 issue of Old Oregon (the UO alumni magazine) [PDF] included an editorial by Crutcher about the many ills of the modern city, illustrated with a few more of these paintings. (Incidentally, his complaint about utility companies' hack-and-slash tree pruning practices is something that hasn't really improved over the last 60-odd years.) The city sign code largely adopted his ideas after a few years, although as fate would have it the few neon signs that survived are now seen as civic treasures to be protected at all costs.
Another aspect of his anti-ugliness campaign has survived the test of time a bit better: At some point, decades earlier, the city had decided that all Portland bridges must be painted black, no exceptions. The Broadway Bridge was black, the Ross Island was black, along with the Hawthorne and all the others. Crutcher had the bright idea that maybe a little variety wouldn't kill us, which led to the range of colors we see today. Except the Steel Bridge, which is owned by a railroad and not the city, and frankly looks like it hasn't been repainted since before the current color scheme went into effect.
Other projects Crutcher was involved in included restoration work at Skidmore Fountain Plaza and the Railway Exchange Block (which is currently being transmogrified into yet another boutique hotel), and the design of Memorial Coliseum. As an architecture student in the 1940s, he designed the houses for an early desegregated subdivision in Claremont, CA, which are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Next stop on our public art tour takes us a bit off the beaten path. If you're heading out of Portland on SW Barbur, right after the tangled intersection with Capitol Highway and I-5 you might catch a quick glimpse of a statue of a Colonial minuteman, bravely guarding the low-rise brick offices of a local mortgage company. I noticed this a couple of times on rare trips out to the 'burbs and made a note to check it out, which I did on a subsequent rare trip. (It's at SW Barbur & Huber St.; the geotag for this post points at the exact location.) The statue's base includes an inscription "Carlton Bell 1976", along with the names of a few assistants, which I can't quite make out in my photos, unfortunately.
The only info I've found about this statue comes from an almost decade-old Portland Public Art post. Or rather, from the comments to the post. Several comments are by people who had known Bell in years past and had googled around trying to figure out what ever became of him. Go read the whole thread. It's kind of fascinating. And be sure to look at the dates: The post is from April 2006, but comments keep trickling in; the most recent one (as of right now) is dated July 2015.
I wish internet comment sections worked like that more often. I still get occasional (and generally interesting) comments to my original Kelly Butte post (which also dates to 2006), but that's pretty much the only example I've got here. Alhough to be honest this humble blog often goes months without a single comment, even to the most recent posts. I prefer to think that's because I've done such a thorough job that nobody has anything more to add. That may even be true sometimes...