Monday, March 06, 2006

Columbia River Crystal

columbia river crystal

I've gone off on the occasional rant about awful public art from time to time, so I thought it was high time I featured something that I actually like. This is Columbia River Crystal, by David Curt Morris, a New York sculptor who just happens to have grown up in Portland. Even graduated from Reed. I'm not saying that out of small-town boosterism, but it is kind of a neat bit of trivia.

columbia river crystal

Updated 11/12/08: I've always reserved the right to go back and update old posts if I've got something more to add on the subject, and this post was overdue for a little tweaking. In particular, when I wrote this I didn't have the whole Flickr thing sorted out yet, so I used a photo I found on the net somewhere. I'm not real big on doing that anymore, so I'm replacing it with a bunch of artsy-esque photos I took recently. If these don't float your boat, here are two photos I ran across out on the interwebs. Hmm. Was "interwebs" even a word when I wrote this originally? Is it a word now?

Forgive me if the post rambles off topic a bit toward the end. I used to do that a lot. At least the new photos are all "on topic". Well, whatever. On with our story...


columbia river crystal

Why do I like it? Reasonable people can disagree about this, of course, but I think it's beautiful, and it fits its location perfectly. The only downside is that its location is fairly obscure, at the entrance to the Crown Plaza office complex on the south end of downtown, near the corner of 1st and Clay. You either have to know it's there and go in search of it, or you have to walk around in the area a lot and eventually stumble across it, which is what I did.

columbia river crystal

The really encouraging thing is that it's a recent piece, installed in 1997. I'm not really hip to current trends in the art world, but I'd like to believe that abstract sculpture is improving over time, with this being a recent(-ish) example, and the infamous "Rusting Chunks No. 5" a.k.a "Leland One" representing a primitive, bygone era.

columbia river crystal

On my TODO list, there are two more downtown artworks I mean to track down when I get a chance. I've heard there's a neat little fountain in the underground parking garage of the ultra-mod 60's Union Bank of California Tower. And a few weeks ago I was driving past one of the new engineering buildings at Portland State University, and noticed what appeared to be the "parking garage pillar" thingy I mentioned in the Rusting Chunks post. I thought it had been demolished to make way for the new CS building, but maybe they just moved it instead. If true, that would be a serious crying shame.

columbia river crystal

While searching for info on the UBC Tower's fountain, I came across an fascinating blog entry mentioning the building itself, from the local blog anti:freeze. The building also features on this list of the best buildings in town.

columbia river crystal

Also came across pics of two smallish fountains in town that I've never personally seen or heard of. I gather the second one is somewhere near the lower reservoir in Washington Park, but I couldn't begin to guess where it might be located.

columbia river crystal

Yet another interesting post that wasn't quite what I was looking for. The "Cool flower planter" item toward the bottom looks like it's at Lovejoy Fountain Plaza. The author complains the area seems deserted, especially during off-hours. Which is true, but in this case I think it's great. I've always thought of this park as a sort of modernist secret oasis in the middle of the city, known only to those who live or work or go to school in the area. And really I'm just fine with it staying that way, especially now that tourist-filled streetcars are running just a block or two away. If only they knew, they could stop, and gawk, and loudly tell each other how there isn't anything quite like this back home in Idaho Falls, and drop their gum and cigarette butts everywhere, and pester the locals with stupid questions, and demand to know where they can buy tourist knicknacks, maybe snowglobes with the fountain inside or something, or cheap his-n-hers size XXXXXL t-shirts with pictures of the fountain on 'em, and maybe a tasmanian devil too, just to spice things up. But luckily it's not in the guidebook, so they don't have a clue it's there. For now, it's our little secret.

columbia river crystal

columbia river crystal

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