Sunday, February 17, 2013



Hey, it's time for yet another installment of me wandering around taking photos of obscure public art around town. Today's adventure takes us to the south end of the South Park Blocks, where we find a small piece titled Holon, by Don Wilson, the same guy who created Interlocking Forms, a much larger, but similar-looking sculpture along the Portland transit mall. We're told Holon is a recent (2004) addition to the Park Blocks, and there isn't a lot about it out on the interwebs. The few descriptions of it I've come across seem to be taken from a single source via a game of telephone:

  • PortlandOnline:
    Installed in 2004, this work made of white Indiana limestone by Oregon sculptor Donald Wilson is entitled Holon. The word comes from the Greek holos which means whole, entire, complete in all its parts - something that has integrity and identity at the same time as it is a part of a larger system.
  • CultureNOW:
    Holon is the most recent addition to Porland's famed Park Blocks. Holon comes from the Greek word "holos," meaning whole or complete in its parts. Oregon sculptor Donald Wilson intended his piece Holon to be whole, with integrity on its own while being a part of a larger system.
  • Regional Arts & Culture Council:
    “Holon”, originally commissioned in 1979, was dedicated to the late Dr. Gordon Hearn, the first dean of the School of Social Work at PSU, and reflects the school’s holistic design.

I frankly have no idea what "holistic design" even is. The word "Holon" is a technical term in philosophy, and the above descriptions seem to be trying to give a definition of it for a general audience, with little success. I'm not even going to have a go at that; if you're interested, just go read the Wikipedia article.


The RACC page I linked to gives an original date of 1979 and notes it was "re-carved" in 2003. The 1979 date would explain why it looks so much like its 1977 sibling on the transit mall. I'm not sure what "re-carved" means, but a 1981 "In Memoriam" piece about Mr. Hearn, and a mention of Holon in a human behavior textbook both indicate Holon was somewhere on the PSU campus as of the late 1970s. So re-carved could mean repaired, or replaced, or updated to reflect its creator's true vision, like with the first 3 Star Wars movies. Dunno.

Holon Holon Holon Holon Holon

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