Wednesday, May 30, 2007

park blocks commute

So I was walking to work again, this time along the South Park Blocks, and I noticed a work crew tearing down this church office building:


Look closely at the photo (or look at the larger version), and look in the window next to the room being demolished. Look at the painting on the wall in that room. Doesn't that guy look a little familiar? I'm not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, and I generally favor the notion of tearing out church buildings when the opportunity arises. But even to me it seems like this ought to be bad luck or something, tearing down the building without rescuing that mural first.

It should come as no great surprise that the building's being demolished in favor of an ultra-ritzy condo tower. When there's big bucks on the line, I suppose there's no room for getting all sentimental over some old painting, even if you're a church.

On a much cheerier note, here are a couple of roses near the sacreligious carnage:



And some decorative berries nearby. They're either salal or Oregon grape, I think. I always get the two confused. Yes, yes, I was a Boy Scout once, and I'm sure there was a test on this, but that was a very long time ago. Entire new species have probably evolved since then. Continents have drifted, even.


Elsewhere along the South Park Blocks, a couple photos from the Peace Plaza block:



This block's been known officially as Peace Plaza since 1985, although I don't know of anyone who calls it that. The sculpture you're looking at is called "Peace Chant". I hate to sound like an uncultured rube here, but I don't get it. I don't really see the peace component to the work, I have to say. No doubt the artist and funders meant well, and everyone knows that representational sculpture is tres gauche and all that. But if your goal is to educate the public about the desirability of peace rather than war, you really want something a bit more, y'know, accessible, dontcha think? Peace is a deadly serious business. It was in '85, just like it is now. It deserves better than just another pile of mute, inexplicable stones.

The plaque that goes with the work doesn't do much to explain it:


(You might notice the leaves; the "Peace Chant" photos were taken back in September, but I hadn't gotten around to using them until now.) Some more photos of the thing at Portland Waymarking, and it also figures in a conservative author's rant against abstract art over at the Trib. Which is funny really; you'd think that conservatives would be delighted at how utterly ineffective the thing is as a peace monument.

Contrast that with the giant peace symbol at "Peace Memorial Park", at the east end of the Steel Bridge, which is a giant peace symbol made of flowers:


I've discussed this place previously here, before the peace symbol was replanted for this year. When I mentioned it, I'd forgotten about the plaza in the park blocks, just like everyone else. So this makes at least two close-in locations dedicated to the cause of peace, although they're still outnumbered by all the war monuments we have around town.

I realize I'm rambling and wandering a bit afield here, but while poking around in the archives looking for those photos, I ran across a couple of photos from the North Park Blocks.


Now here's a bit of art that works, for what it is. Yes, it's a drinking fountain for dogs, another of those silly "only in Portland" things. And yes, we paid $$$ to have a famous artist design it for us, namely William Wegman of Weimaraner fame. But I like it, and it's still new enough that it doesn't show up in all the guidebooks yet. So here it is.


At the other end of the North Park Blocks' time scale, here's an archaic street name pressed into the curb. It's Park Ave. now, and the old name hasn't been used since at least the 1930's, if I recall correctly.

So I suppose this doesn't really give you a good picture of my morning commute today, but there you have it.

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