Sunday, December 08, 2013

Money Tree

The MAX Green Line's Powell Boulevard station is home to Money Tree, the sort of winged post in the distance in the above photo. TriMet's description of it:

Valerie Otani created a contemporary Money Tree to symbolize the revitalization of the neighborhood and hope for the prosperity of the new immigrant communities. The overall form evokes the Douglas fir, and each branch takes its design from traditional folk art of cultures living in the neighborhood

This photo was taken from inside a MAX train, with an inferior-grade phone camera, so you can't really see the branch details, but an Examiner article about Green Line art has a detail photo of part of one branch, which gives a better idea of what it looks like up close.

Otani's work has appeared here a few times before, including Folly Bollards at the downtown Performing Arts Center, and Prescott Biozone on the MAX Yellow Line. She doesn't appear to have a website, so I'm having trouble elaborating on TriMet's rather terse description. They don't even mention which immigrant communities are represented here. I did run across a few mentions of a female Saudi-American artist who collaborated on part of Money Tree. An interview with her describes this segment of the tree:

You may also see one of Huda’s art pieces live in a neighborhood of Portland, Oregon called the “Money Tree” sculpture. It is a beautiful and creative joint public art project designed by both Huda Totonji and a Japanese American artist, Valerie Otani. Dr. Huda Totonji designed a branch of the “Money Tree” 20 feet tall sculpture. It stands tall on Powell Boulevard Station, TriMet, I 205. The theme of the sculpture is the revitalization with new immigrants as they bring prosperity and cultural strength. Dr. Huda’s design incorporates Arabic calligraphy that communicates good wishes for prosperity from the Muslim traditions.

As we continue through the Green Line sculptures, you'll notice a theme developing. With a few exceptions, they tend to be tall poles (such as the one here) with much of the design elements overhead and out of reach. I imagine this is to thwart casual vandals, metal thieves, and teenage boys who want to impress people by climbing them, because this part of the outer eastside isn't the most upscale part of town, and TriMet's afraid of whatever mischief the restless natives might get up to. That's my theory, anyway.

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