Friday, February 26, 2010

Uroboros

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)


A few photos of "Uroboros", a small modern sculpture in Westmoreland Park. It's hidden away toward the south end of the park near Crystal Springs Creek, and it's not all that big, and it's sort of earth-toned, so you won't necessarily notice it. I never noticed it until I read about it on the interwebs and went there specifically to track it down, and even then it a while to find it.

Its Smithsonian Art Inventory page gives a date of "possibly 1978", and gives a little extra detail about it:

Medium: Sculpture: concrete; Base: concrete.
Dimensions: Sculpture: approx. 45 x 45 x 16 in.; Base: approx. 21 x 20 x 16 in.
Inscription: (At lower right:) Kibby 78(?) signed
...
Remarks: Commissioned under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and donated to the park.
Condition: Surveyed 1993 November. Treatment urgent.
References: Save Outdoor Sculpture, Oregon survey, 1993.

Looking at this sculpture today, I seriously doubt 1993's urgently required treatment ever happened.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Not much on the interwebs about this one; Portland Public Art mentions it in passing, comparing it to the rather similar Disk #4 up in Peninsula Park:

It is a fair replica of Chuck Kibby’s Uroboros, in stone, located at Westmoreland Park. There may be more in storage somewhere. Both typify a 1970s combination of anxiety about marketing and incomprehension about interesting artwork.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

I note that both pieces were funded under CETA, a 70's-era federal jobs program that's fondly remembered for its lax rules and generosity. My understanding is that you could get a grant for just about anything under the sun. You'd just claim that someone, somewhere, would probably have a job for a while, and the feds would write you a big check. It sounds almost European, and I mean that in a good way.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

If I'm reading things right, and guessing correctly, it appears the guy who created "Uroboros" now has a well-known historic preservation firm in Los Angeles. A 2008 LA Times article profiles the company and talks about its rapid growth & growing pains. (Although note the real estate bubble was still inflating at that point.)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Like the similar Disk #4, I don't really have a strong opinion about this one. I do generally prefer abstract art. I realize that's still a minority opinion even after a century or so of it, but there you go. And this one's perfectly fine, although as an astronomy & photo geek I can't help thinking it looks an a lot like a coded aperture mask (See this one from the European INTEGRAL gamma ray satellite).

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

In any case, it has an interesting texture that's kind of fun to play with in photos (and hopefully you can see this). I'm not sure it's the original, intended texture, but hey. If the city or RACC ever scrapes up some cash for restoration work, I can think of one obvious candidate for the job.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Upstream Downtown

upstream downtown

Even if you spend a lot of time in downtown Portland, odds are that you barely notice all the parking garages. They're big ugly grey concrete beasts, very un-PC and kind of archaic. We aren't quite bike-nirvana enough to get rid of them, so instead we just sort of try to ignore them and block them out, which actually works rather well. The garage at 3rd & Morrison is among the worst offenders in the ugly department, although it does have retail at street level at least. And if you're on the Morrison St. side and look up (which I suspect most people don't do), you'll discover "Upstream Downtown", a collection of 18 brightly colored salmon sculptures.

upstream downtown

Its Smithsonian Art Inventory page says the fish were created in 1992 by the sculptor Gary Hirsch. They're done in aluminum, acrylic, and enamel, and they measure roughly 4 by 12 feet. Which is much larger than they appear from the ground. The page then describes the work thusly:

The exterior side wall of a parking garage features eighteen panels each featuring a different multi-colored fish. In the center of the wall there is a hook and worm.

I hadn't noticed the hook and worm before reading that, but yeah, there it is. It makes a bit more sense now. I mean, I don't think it's supposed to be deep or anything, it's a bunch of whimsical (and very 1992-looking) cartoon salmon. But at least now I know what they're doing.

As for why they're here -- I can see the city wanting to de-uglify its parking garages (or at least their most tourist-facing sides). I'm afraid it's still a big hulking ugly parking garage, salmon or no salmon. So I have to say the fish aren't working miracles here, although I'm not sure anything could.

And why salmon, you ask? You must still be unfamiliar with Portland's "Law of Salmon": The surest way to win a public art commission in Portland is to include some salmon in your project somewhere, regardless of whether the result makes any sense. And if your proposal is 100% salmon, you're basically golden.

I know I've said this before, but the Law of Salmon makes me wish we had more interesting wildlife in these parts. I mean, salmon are tasty and all, but they aren't exactly the cleverest, or most attractive, or most fascinating fish in the sea. I find myself wishing for a Law of Electric Eels, or a Statute of Toucans, or the Echidnas Act of 1987, or the Panda Manifesto, or a unanimous Supreme Court decision favoring Snow Monkeys. You know, something along those lines. But, alas, it is not to be.

upstream downtown

Vegas: Encore Butterflies + Etc.

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

Encore Las Vegas

now tweeting

Yeah, it's true, I've got one of them Twitter thingys: http://twitter.com/atul666, and you're welcome to follow me if you're so inclined. The account isn't actually new; I signed up for it quite a while ago. If you scroll down this page a bit, the sidebar has a section laughably titled "My Vast Media Empire", and there's a link in there somewhere. But I didn't initially see the point of Twitter, so the account basically languished until last December or so. I'm not sure whether I "get it" now, or I merely stopped demanding it have a point, but hey. It's kind of fun either way.

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

A few photos from that strange parallel world where objects have colors and shadows.

Those of you who recognize the location might be wondering how I could stand there taking photos of shadows while homeless people slept in doorways just feet away. I'm kind of wondering that myself, to be honest. It generally just doesn't occur to me to take photos of people, with or without their permission. And I'm not sure I'd pull it off properly if I did. My gut feeling is that the results would come off as exploitative and kind of anthropological, like a 50's National Geographic article about a primitive Amazonian tribe, except the photos wouldn't be as good. That's my after-the-fact excuse, at any rate.

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

shadows, burnside

Friday, February 19, 2010

cherry trees, spring 2010

cherries, february 2010

Taken on the same morning as the previous post, same ISO issue & everything. So sorry for the noise etc., and enjoy the flowers, or whatever.

If you looked at this post earlier, you might have noticed that the text made no sense at all and wondered what was going on. I was somewhat less than half awake at the time, and it seemed perfectly coherent then. I suppose "blog awake" ought to be an official rule, right up there with "blog sober" and "blog non-zombified".

cherries, february 2010

cherries, february 2010

cherries, february 2010

cherries, february 2010

cherries, february 2010