Thursday, March 31, 2011
A small photoset about decaying concert posters on telephone poles. New posters are often stapled directly on top of shabby old ones, which echoes the growth rings in the tree trunk they're stapled to.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
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Today's adventure takes us out to Troutdale's Glenn Otto Park, on the Sandy River. The park is mostly famous for the sort of safety issues that result when you combine warm weather, cheap beer, testosterone, and a very cold, fast river. Which is something that's come up in a few earlier posts (the High Rocks one for example), and I'm not really interested in revisiting the topic. The problem is that I'm not sure what else there is to say about the place. I stopped by just to take photos of the bridge next door, and I ended up with some photos that weren't of the bridge, and here they are.
I did manage to find a few non-picnic, non-drowning-related items to pass along, so here they are as well:
Friday, March 25, 2011
I thought this was a strange place to tie a bunch of balloons to a light pole. Then I realized that the Justice Center is diagonally across the street, and someone held on the upper floors just might be able to glimpse the balloons. So that's my theory.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
These photos are of the ornate, shabby early 20th century telco building at SW Park & Oak, behind the Benson Hotel. The little face above appears to be glued onto the building, possibly an unofficial contribution by some anonymous (and skilled) artist out there. Sidewalk ponies, eat your hearts out.
Posted by brx0 _ at 12:53 AM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Our occasional tour of Transit Mall art stops in on 5th Avenue near Oak St., the new home of this small and brightly colored gizmo named Untitled, not to be confused with a similar work a block to the north also titled Untitled. TriMet's Green Line Public Art Guide [pdf] has a small photo and a very brief description that reads simply:
Ivan Morrison, Untitled, 1977, Painted aluminum
SW 5th and Oak.
There's very little contemporary info on the net about this one. The artist's website includes a mention of it in his resume, but doesn't include any photos. The October 2008 RACC newsletter mentions its reinstallation on the transit mall, and includes a small photo of its earlier removal via forklift. Untitled also gets a mention in a ginormous XML file from the University of Oregon listing a lot of things that "One Percent For Art" money has been spent on over the years.
To find out more, we have to dive into the Multnomah County Library's Oregonian historical archives again. A January 5, 1977 article lists the winning entries in TriMet's Transit Mall art competition. The top selection was the Kelly Fountain, for which $75,000 was awarded. The second largest award was $35,500, for an erstwhile fountain on 6th between Yamhill and Taylor. The metal centerpiece of the fountain survives, fountainless, in front of the Standard Insurance building on SW 5th. Third largest (and I'm not sure why the paper listed them by grant size) was $25,000 for Interlocking Forms, which the artist stated he expected people to climb on. If you were to try actually doing that in 2011 you'd very likely get pepper sprayed, then tasered, then given a large fine for "disorderly conduct", whatever that is. Anyway, the article goes on to briefly mention 8 other works, including the other Untitled I mentioned earlier, along with Kvinneakt, Cat in Repose, and a few others I haven't covered here yet. And then there's the piece shown here, which is described simply as "an assemblage of painted steel shapes". So it wasn't the main attraction back then either.
A followup article, on March 19, 1978, interviewed a number of the Transit Mall artists, asking them to explain what their works were about. The relevant blurb from that article:
Ivan Morrison said he used primary colors -- bright yellows, blues, and reds -- in his 7-foot-high, painted and assembled aluminum arch (Southwest Sixth between Alder and Washington streets) to accent the space around it.
"More subtle colors would get lost in its environment," said Morrison. "I like the idea of colors Alexander Calder has used in public spaces. I have been influenced by that."
There's also a photo, which isn't reproduced well in the scanned version of the article. The creator of the other Untitled also mentions the city's need for a little color in the winter. Whether you like 70's abstract art or not, you have to admit they had a legitimate point there.
For what it's worth, Mr. Morrison also gets a passing compliment in a January 26, 1974 profile of Lee Kelly, who was about to exhibit a portion of the partially completed Leland I, aka "Rusting Chunks #5". Which is described as:
Trucked in from the farm (young Jason helps operate the truck crane) will be two parts of the three part gate-tower complex in three-quarter scale which Kelly and his wife are doing in weathered steel and red enamel for a small park in the South Auditorium Renewal Project.
At the south terminus of the mall system, with steps leading up to it, the sculpture will be a serene place, 20 feet high, to walk around and through. It was commissioned by the Portland Development Commission
Sunday, March 20, 2011
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Today's thrilling adventure takes us back to Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island. I previously posted some photos of apples and hydrangeas taken there, but I haven't gotten around to doing a post on the park as a whole. I think the big reason for this is that the park preserves a historic pioneer-era farm and farmhouse, and I just don't find pioneer history all that compelling. I mean, our local creation story is basically the tale of some farmers looking for better farmland, and traveling a long way to get it. I mean, it's not exactly a Viking saga full of swords and dragons, or a legend about being descended from a moon goddess, even if we do have our own video game. Other than surviving the long journey, I'm not aware that any pioneers really did or said anything particularly fascinating. If any of them kept scandalous secret diaries, they haven't surfaced yet. And then there's the small matter of what happened to the previous human population when settlers showed up.
If you're wondering why I visited at all, I was visiting Sauvie Island to take a few photos of the new bridge (which I haven't quite posted yet), and I made a side trip to wander around Wapato Greenway for a bit. So since I was in the area, I though I'd take a look at this park too.
If you do happen to be a pioneer history nut, sadly the park doesn't offer much in the way of attractions. You'd think that it would, but it doesn't. The historic Bybee-Howell farmhouse is empty and closed to the public. I assume that's due to lack of funds, because this is Oregon and everything chronically lacks funds. I took a couple of photos peeking through various windows, but they aren't very interesting photos. The old orchard is a bit more interesting, as it apparently preserves a number of rare heirloom apple varieties. I've read that there's also an old rose garden somewhere on the grounds as well, although they weren't blooming when I visited so I don't have any photos of that. There's a little info about the grounds here, but I haven't come across anything resembling a guide to the place or even just a list of what's here.
The grounds are home to a sculpture titled Herons, by Portland artist Tom Hardy. This is according to a post at the Portland Public Art blog. I initially knew nothing about this thing, since there doesn't seem to be a sign giving the name or artist on the sculpture itself, or anywhere nearby, or on Metro's web page about the park for that matter. The State Archives has a photo of it, but no further info beyond that, not even a name. So apparently I'm not the only one who's been stymied by the lack of signage.
The park does get a quick mention in a 2000 New York Times article going on about the wonders of Sauvie Island. No, seriously. It's a good article, it's just kind of weird that it showed up in a New York newspaper. I didn't realize the NYT was already stalking Portland back then, but apparently so. Just as a quick factoid for you, it seems that Sauvie Island is 40% larger than Manhattan (33 square miles vs. 23), and has just 1/1000 of the population.
For those of a more wonkish bent, I did find Metro's 1997 Master Plan for the park, as well as a 2000 conditional use permit from Multnomah County basically signing off on the master plan. It's not clear how much of this plan was ever implemented, though. The proposed expansion of visitor facilities doesn't seem to have panned out, at any rate. No gift shop, no overnight guest accomodations, not even a convenient source of coffee, which is just uncivilized.
It's time for another episode in our occasional tour of Transit Mall art. Today we're on SW 5th Avenue near the corner of Stark St., home to one of the smaller works in TriMet's collection. This is Floribunda, which TriMet's Green Line public art guide describes thusly:
I like to think I'm a reasonably imaginative person, but without reading this I never would have suspected this was based on a hairstyle. And obscure cooking implement, perhaps, or maybe a teapot, or possibly a curling rock.
Well before TriMet purchased it, Floribunda featured in a 1999 gallery show in Seattle. The gallery page mentions an edition of 3, so the one pictured there may not be the same one that graces our city streets. You'll note that it's shown sitting right on the floor, so the pedestal here is a TriMet addition. I suppose it would have been a tripping hazard otherwise.
A Seattle Times article about the show admired it:
Though many of the pieces in this show are meant to be mounted on walls, one of the best works is "Floribunda," a rotund, cast bronze piece that sits on the floor like a huge pumpkin. Its surface is covered with perfectly symmetrical grooves like the shells of certain ocean crustaceans or some gourds. But, like a number of other pieces in this show, "Floribunda" has a neat "topknot" that seems to refer to a head..
In 2009 the same gallery hosted another show of more recent works by Mr. Calderon. Photos & info about which can be found here and here.