Friday, February 26, 2010

Uroboros

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)


A few photos of "Uroboros", a small modern sculpture in Westmoreland Park. It's hidden away toward the south end of the park near Crystal Springs Creek, and it's not all that big, and it's sort of earth-toned, so you won't necessarily notice it. I never noticed it until I read about it on the interwebs and went there specifically to track it down, and even then it a while to find it.

Its Smithsonian Art Inventory page gives a date of "possibly 1978", and gives a little extra detail about it:

Medium: Sculpture: concrete; Base: concrete.
Dimensions: Sculpture: approx. 45 x 45 x 16 in.; Base: approx. 21 x 20 x 16 in.
Inscription: (At lower right:) Kibby 78(?) signed
...
Remarks: Commissioned under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and donated to the park.
Condition: Surveyed 1993 November. Treatment urgent.
References: Save Outdoor Sculpture, Oregon survey, 1993.

Looking at this sculpture today, I seriously doubt 1993's urgently required treatment ever happened.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Not much on the interwebs about this one; Portland Public Art mentions it in passing, comparing it to the rather similar Disk #4 up in Peninsula Park:

It is a fair replica of Chuck Kibby’s Uroboros, in stone, located at Westmoreland Park. There may be more in storage somewhere. Both typify a 1970s combination of anxiety about marketing and incomprehension about interesting artwork.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

I note that both pieces were funded under CETA, a 70's-era federal jobs program that's fondly remembered for its lax rules and generosity. My understanding is that you could get a grant for just about anything under the sun. You'd just claim that someone, somewhere, would probably have a job for a while, and the feds would write you a big check. It sounds almost European, and I mean that in a good way.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

If I'm reading things right, and guessing correctly, it appears the guy who created "Uroboros" now has a well-known historic preservation firm in Los Angeles. A 2008 LA Times article profiles the company and talks about its rapid growth & growing pains. (Although note the real estate bubble was still inflating at that point.)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Like the similar Disk #4, I don't really have a strong opinion about this one. I do generally prefer abstract art. I realize that's still a minority opinion even after a century or so of it, but there you go. And this one's perfectly fine, although as an astronomy & photo geek I can't help thinking it looks an a lot like a coded aperture mask (See this one from the European INTEGRAL gamma ray satellite).

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

In any case, it has an interesting texture that's kind of fun to play with in photos (and hopefully you can see this). I'm not sure it's the original, intended texture, but hey. If the city or RACC ever scrapes up some cash for restoration work, I can think of one obvious candidate for the job.

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

Uroboros (Westmoreland Park)

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