Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

A few photos of one of my favorite public art pieces in town, "Ring of Time", by Hilda Morris. It's not strictly public, mind you; it sits in front of the Standard Insurance Plaza building (not to be confused with the nearby Standard Insurance Center, which has The Quest out front), and it dates back to an era when companies liked to appear cultured, highbrow even, and wanted to be seen as public-minded members of the community. As part of that effort, they often spent far more than strictly necessary on office buildings and art to decorate them. You don't often see that anymore, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. It may be that an ostentatious building no longer convinces the public that the business inside is solvent and soberly run, so you can't justify all the glitz as a business necessity anymore. If the savings from not buying highbrow art resulted in lower insurance rates for consumers, I suppose that might be a reasonable tradeoff. But something tells me the money goes to CEO bonuses instead. I don't have proof in hand, but it just stands to reason.

I realize some of the photos look a tad crooked. I'd like to blame it all on the building sitting on a slope, and insist the photos really are framed straight up and down. Not totally sure that's the entirety of the problem, but hey. The earth isn't here to argue, so that's the explanation I'm going with.

Ring of Time

From the interwebs:
  • A post about it at Portland Public Art. Note the comment by a 5-years-younger yours truly, agreeing that it strongly resembles the "Guardian of Forever" in a certain classic Star Trek episode. I can see how a mysterious time portal could be useful to an insurance company. They could send "adjusters" back in time whenever someone was about to do something stupid and expensive, and slap them silly until they promised not to do whatever they had in mind. And I suppose if you don't have access to a genuine time portal, parking a nonfunctional replica out front is the next best thing. I suppose. Given what little I know about the insurance business, I mean.
  • The Smithsonian Art Inventory page for the sculpture.
  • A retrospective on works by Hilda Morris.
  • And a list of her major shows, commissions, etc..
  • Portland Oregon Daily Photo has two posts about it. The first one refers to it as an "onion ring", which is a fairly apt and delicious description. The second discusses it a little more, and goes on to explain the weather beacon atop the Standard Insurance building. I really think the weather beacon is overkill, btw; they could just leave it flashing green all the time, for "precipitation, no change", and it would be accurate at least 75% of the time.
  • two photos on Flickr.
Ring of Time

 The conservative scold guy who loved The Promised Land (the cheesy pioneer art in Chapman Square) hates Ring of Time. I realize modern abstract art is an acquired taste, but as a rule you can't go too far wrong by liking the opposite of whatever he likes. If I ever met the guy for some reason, not that I'm eager to, I'm likely to demand "Why do you hate onion rings?" the way neocons used to say "Why do you hate freedom?".

Mmmm.... onion rings....

  Ring of Time
Ring of Time

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

Ring of Time

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