Tuesday, March 22, 2011

untitled (5th & oak)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

Our occasional tour of Transit Mall art stops in on 5th Avenue near Oak St., the new home of this small and brightly colored gizmo named Untitled, not to be confused with a similar work a block to the north also titled Untitled. TriMet's Green Line Public Art Guide [pdf] has a small photo and a very brief description that reads simply:

Ivan Morrison, Untitled, 1977, Painted aluminum
SW 5th and Oak
.

There's very little contemporary info on the net about this one. The artist's website includes a mention of it in his resume, but doesn't include any photos. The October 2008 RACC newsletter mentions its reinstallation on the transit mall, and includes a small photo of its earlier removal via forklift. Untitled also gets a mention in a ginormous XML file from the University of Oregon listing a lot of things that "One Percent For Art" money has been spent on over the years.

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

To find out more, we have to dive into the Multnomah County Library's Oregonian historical archives again. A January 5, 1977 article lists the winning entries in TriMet's Transit Mall art competition. The top selection was the Kelly Fountain, for which $75,000 was awarded. The second largest award was $35,500, for an erstwhile fountain on 6th between Yamhill and Taylor. The metal centerpiece of the fountain survives, fountainless, in front of the Standard Insurance building on SW 5th. Third largest (and I'm not sure why the paper listed them by grant size) was $25,000 for Interlocking Forms, which the artist stated he expected people to climb on. If you were to try actually doing that in 2011 you'd very likely get pepper sprayed, then tasered, then given a large fine for "disorderly conduct", whatever that is. Anyway, the article goes on to briefly mention 8 other works, including the other Untitled I mentioned earlier, along with Kvinneakt, Cat in Repose, and a few others I haven't covered here yet. And then there's the piece shown here, which is described simply as "an assemblage of painted steel shapes". So it wasn't the main attraction back then either.

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

A followup article, on March 19, 1978, interviewed a number of the Transit Mall artists, asking them to explain what their works were about. The relevant blurb from that article:

Ivan Morrison said he used primary colors -- bright yellows, blues, and reds -- in his 7-foot-high, painted and assembled aluminum arch (Southwest Sixth between Alder and Washington streets) to accent the space around it.

"More subtle colors would get lost in its environment," said Morrison. "I like the idea of colors Alexander Calder has used in public spaces. I have been influenced by that."

There's also a photo, which isn't reproduced well in the scanned version of the article. The creator of the other Untitled also mentions the city's need for a little color in the winter. Whether you like 70's abstract art or not, you have to admit they had a legitimate point there.

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

For what it's worth, Mr. Morrison also gets a passing compliment in a January 26, 1974 profile of Lee Kelly, who was about to exhibit a portion of the partially completed Leland I, aka "Rusting Chunks #5". Which is described as:

Trucked in from the farm (young Jason helps operate the truck crane) will be two parts of the three part gate-tower complex in three-quarter scale which Kelly and his wife are doing in weathered steel and red enamel for a small park in the South Auditorium Renewal Project.

At the south terminus of the mall system, with steps leading up to it, the sculpture will be a serene place, 20 feet high, to walk around and through. It was commissioned by the Portland Development Commission

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

"Untitled" (5th & Pine)

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