Monday, December 24, 2012


A couple of photos of Ascension, the series of ladder sculptures at the 1st Avenue side of Fire Station #1, near the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland. The RACC public art database describes it:

The ladders symbolize the direct connection between the buildings, the firefighters and equipment used to protect them. Not only do they function as a symbol of the fire bureau, but also as an abstract representation of striving and accomplishment. Together the ladders and columns tell a story of the past and how the present we continue to revere such goals and achievements.

It's maybe not the most eye-catching artwork in town, and so far I haven't come across any mentions of it on the interwebs other than various maps and public art inventories. So I don't have much to pass along on that point. I did come across an interview with the artist, who explains that he got sick of dealing with bureaucracy and has moved on from seeking new public art commissions.


Curiously, an image search turned up a completely different sculpture of a ladder, titled Ascensión. This one's by the Cuban artist Ernesto Rancaño, and is covered in thorns for reasons the article about him doesn't explain. A piece at ARTslant comments about it:

Rancaño’s work also can be very aggressive. Ascension 2006 shows a white ladder with a thousand spiny protrusions that will slow, if not thwart altogether any inclination to ascend. Strangely, viewers are beckoned to climb.

Pretty sure that would never fly as a public art piece, not in this country anyway. Because lawyers. Also, concerned parents.

Ascension Ascension

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