Tuesday, August 07, 2007

River Spirits

River Spirits


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So here's another of the munchkin-sized art parks along the MAX Yellow Line. This little spot of land is known as the Ainsworth Greenspace, because it sits at the corner of Ainsworth St. & Interstate Avenue. It's home to the sculpture you see here, "River Spirits"

TriMet describes the spot as:

Three tree totems with poetry written by students at Ockley Green Middle School surround a small plaza.


I wouldn't go quite so far as to describe them as totems, but I suppose they're sort of totem-ish, and they do have a sorta Northwest Indian theme, despite being made mostly out of rusting steel bits welded together.

River Spirits

One mildly curious thing is that although the place was created with your urban renewal transit dollars, it's not actually next to a MAX stop. You might catch a quick glimpse of it from the train as you speed by, but that's about it. Possibly someone just thought the corner could use a little sprucing up, and it's hard to disagree there. On one side you have a depressing 60's-era middle school that tends to bring up the rear in those pesky "No Child Left Behind" rankings. Right across the street there's a controversial and reportedly quite skeezy porn store.

River Spirits

I'm not 100% convinced the sprucing-up job is a success, though. If you number among this blog's femto-armada of Gentle Reader(s), you already know I'm not a huge fan of rust, not on cars, not on art, basically nowhere. Ok, so this particular sculpture has an intriguing texture if you look closely enough, or at least it does at present. But people look at you funny if you do that, and given the park's immediate neighborhood, you can sort of imagine why.

It's possible the place is a touch more cheery when the sun's out. Like that ever happens, I mean.

River Spirits

Look closely at the above photo for a moment. A little closer. There, that's good. You're getting sleeeeepy. So just relax and keep looking at the spiral. Now get out your credit cards and... No, I kid, I kid.

River Spirits

If you've been in Portland for any length of time, you've probably seen this face motif before in some form or other. It's derived from a locally iconic example of tribal rock art out in the Columbia Gorge. It's one of the very few such examples we've got around here, so we've sort of been beating it to death over the last decade or two, and it shows up everywhere, often without explanation. Like most people in the Northwest, I've never actually seen the original in person, although I think I saw it in HD on OPB once.

The other two river spirits are supposed to be a crow and a salmon. And sure, yes, they're proper native imagery and so forth, but when I see this stuff I always end up lamenting we don't have more interesting wildlife around these parts. Like snow monkeys, say, or wild parrots, or giant tortoises, or echidnas, just to name a few off the top of my head. I mean, salmon? Borrrrrringgggg.....

River Spirits

River Spirits

1 comment :

Mark said...

Hey, but the poem is excellent for a thirteen year old.