Sunday, October 28, 2012

Alluvial Wall

Alluvial Wall

This humble blog's occasional public art tour ventures across the river to visit a cluster of related pieces on the Eastbank Esplanade. I actually wrote a post about Echo Gate way back in July 2006. I either didn't realize it was part of a grouping, or it just didn't occur to me at the time that I was embarking on a Project that would involve posting about the others. Or it's also possible that my camera ran out of juice or its SD card was full after Echo Gate. Both problems happened a lot back in the old days. Truly, it was a dark and primitive time.

Alluvial Wall

Anyway, today's first stop is "Alluvial Wall", which wraps around a bend in the Esplanade path about midway between the Hawthorne and Morrison bridges. The sign next to the piece describes it thusly:

"Interwoven layers of sediment and erosion - Alluvial Wall is an echo of the natural shape of the river before Portland was Portland."
Alluvial Wall

The city parks page for the Esplanade explains further:

The final piece, the Alluvial Wall by Peter Nylen, clings to a concrete retaining wall and echoes the natural shape of the river before Portland was Portland. It alludes to the interwoven layers of the river’s pre-industrial geology and human artifacts; an amalgam of sedimentation and erosion formed of cold-forged steel plate with bronze castings lodged between its layers.

The Smithsonian's art inventory says simply:

Abstract wall sculpture made with slender horizontal bars intersected by slender vertical bars.

A recent public art guide to central Portland expands the credit to "RIGGA (Ean Eldred, James Harrison, John Kashiwabara, Peter Nylen) 2001", and lists its materials as "mild steel, bronze, electric light", although I can't vouch for the electric light.

Alluvial Wall

I've run across a few other links with photos to pass along. Not as many as I was expecting, considering how many people walk, run, or bike past Alluvial Wall on a daily basis. I should probably take that as a sign this public art thing is a strange little project, and an interest that's shared by relatively few people. Or maybe I just need to search harder. Tumblr and Instagram and DeviantART could be absolutely full of hip, moody photos of it and you wouldn't necessarily know just from searching with Google. In any case, check out the photos at 500px,, and ExplorePDX. The photos are pretty tiny in the last one, but they do pick up on some angles I didn't notice during my brief visit. I'm already planning a trip back to take more photos, this time bringing the DSLR and not just my phone, as nice as it may be by phone standards.

Alluvial Wall Alluvial Wall

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