Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interlocking Forms

Our occasional tour of art on the Transit Mall continues with a visit to Interlocking Forms, yet another of the original 1977 crop of big arty doodads. I haven't run across a lot of info about it on the interwebs; Portland Public Art did a short post about it, back when they boxed it up for storage before MAX construction started. And there's not a lot of useful info about it there. There's a Yelp page titled "Interlocking Forms" that's actually about "The Quest" for the most part, and it's not a terribly useful or accurate page about either piece. And an Examiner story has a photo of it.

On that unscientific basis I'm going to conclude it doesn't inspire strong feelings either way in the local internet-using populace, and it's not particularly fashionable within the local contemporary art world. I wouldn't say I have very strong feelings about it either, although I'm kind of intrigued at how it manages to be both groovy (or some would say "dated") and austere at the same time. I do think it needs a better name, though, and I've taken to calling it "The Leg Bone's Connected to the Hip Bone". I have a theory -- well, more of an idle notion really -- that the more severe and intellectual an artwork is, the more it needs a jaunty or flippant name. Consider Mondriaan's "Broadway Boogie Woogie" for example.

I also searched for info on the sculptor, Don Wilson, with only a bit more success. It seems he either taught or teaches at Portland State University, and another piece of his (titled "Holon") sits at the south end of the South Park Blocks, on the PSU campus (the city's South Park Blocks Walking Tour mentions it briefly). It's a quarter century newer and much smaller, but the resemblance is pretty clear. At least once you know to look for it.

Another Portland Public Art post has a photo of Wilson sculpting something. Also ran across at least 3 city archives documents referring to other works of his; the full docs themselves (and the included photos) are unfortunately not online at this time.

The walking tour doc I linked to above mentions that Wilson was once an assistant to Frederic Littman, another local sculptor and creator of the Pioneer Woman on Council Crest, Farewell to Orpheus in the South Park Blocks, and other works. Other Littman students include Lee Kelly (Leland One, Kelly Fountain, Nash, etc.), and Manuel Izquierdo (The Dreamer). There isn't really a family resemblance between their works; it just goes to show how small and interconnected the Portland art world tends to be, basicaly an insular small town within the city, where everyone knows everyone else, gossip thrives, and you never want to burn your bridges if you can help it. Which is true of any skilled industry in just about any city, really. It's certainly true of software engineering in Portland, I can tell you that much from personal experience.

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