If you live or work in downtown Portland, you've probably walked past the "Folly Bollards" sculptures without even noticing them. They're tiny busts of comedic figures from around the world, set on low posts on either side of Main St. at the Performaing Arts Center, between Broadway & Park Ave. They're of relatively recent origin, created in 1998 by local artist Valerie Otani. Longtime Gentle Reader(s) of this humble blog might note that she also co-designed the public art at the Prescott St. MAX station (among other things), including the Prescott Biozone nano-park. Ok, so you almost certainly don't remember that, but I never turn down a chance to link to a 5 year old post. It sort of makes it look like I have a master plan for this humble blog, and have some sort of clue about what I'm doing here.
I'd walked past the little heads countless times before I noticed them and wondered what they were. I'm actually a big fan of this sort of thing: The Folly Bollards don't demand your attention, but there's a lot of detail to see if you're inclined to stop and look. A brief post at Portland Public Art mentions them, less snarkily than usual. Which I get; the faces are kind of cute and it's hard to be snarky about something this small. It would seem kind of mean, somehow.
Anyway, here's a list of the various heads and who or what each one represents: