Sunday, December 08, 2013

Waving Post

The next stop on the Green Line tour is the Fuller Road MAX station, home to Waving Post, which you can barely make out in this terrible Blackberry photo. It's the sort of curved spiky-looking thing in the distance, toward the right of the photo. TriMet's description of it:

The SE Fuller Rd station is located in a section of the Con Battin neighborhood that was isolated from the rest of the neighborhood by the freeway in the late 1970s. Pete Beeman's Waving Post invites viewers to turn the crank, bring the sculpture to life and wave to the neighbors.

Beeman also created Pod (a.k.a. "Satan's Testicle"), the stainless steel kinetic whatzit across the street from Powell's on Burnside. A 2006 Stumptown Stumper at the Tribune explains Pod a bit, and mentions Waving Post briefly as a coming attraction.

I realize this is a crappy photo, but even a great still photo can only tell you so much about a thing like this that's designed to move. Fortunately Beeman posted a short Vimeo video that shows what happens when you turn the crank. It looks cooler, and more graceful, than you'd expect given the whole "waving at the neighbors" concept.

Another TriMet page with statements from various Green Line artists includes this about Waving Post:
The forms of Waving Post are visually suggestive without being too explicit. When I designed the yellow and red horizontal elements, I wanted them to suggest different things to different viewers. One person might come to it and see a human spine; another might see a dinosaur bone, bird wings or even a building truss.

The Fuller Road station is located in an old neighborhood named for an Oregon Trail family. When the freeway went in, the neighborhood was bisected and mostly eliminated. When I realized that a one-block piece of Con Battin Road continued on the other side of I-205, I wanted to make a sculpture that could wave hello at that distant piece of street across the way.

I don't claim to be an expert on this part of town, but I'd never heard of a "Con Battin neighborhood" before. I checked the Oregonian historical database but didn't see anything interesting; I imagine this area was just too far from town to merit discussing in print, from their point of view. Luckily TriMet rides to the rescue again, something they almost never do in real life. As part of the Green Line project, they put together a "Cultural History" of neighborhoods along I-205, and it includes a history blurb about the area:

Formerly known as the Battin neighborhood, this area takes its name from the Battin family who lived here from the 1870s to about the 1950s. Thomas E. Battin came to Oregon from Pennsylvania in 1865, at the age of 19. He came unaccompanied, working as a hired cattle drover for another migrating family. He met his future wife, Caroline, while wintering in Boise. Upon arriving in Oregon, he worked at cutting cord wood and investing in real estate—usually buying portions of claims from earlier settlers. He was the first owner of a parcel of school land in the present- day Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood in Portland, which he bought from the state for $200. Two weeks later, he sold the land for $1000. He settled down on a farm that stretched from Fuller Road to now-gone Jacobson Road (at approximately 90th Avenue) and from Battin Road to Otty Road. Over the years, the Battin property was subdivided among family members, and local streets were named for these children: Battin Road was originally Cleo Battin Road and Con Battin Road was named for C.E. Battin. William Otty Road and J.E. Jacobsen Road were named for claim-holders to the east. Fuller Road was originally Fuller-Price County Road.

The Battin neighborhood was divided, and much of it was removed, when I- 205 was built through the area. Mary Alice Clay, who lived up the hill from the Solid Rock Baptist Church where her husband was the pastor, remembers that church attendance dropped considerably because the freeway forced members to move away. The church survives today with a congregation that primarily live in more distant neighborhoods. Cresslyn Clay, granddaughter of Mary Alice, still lives in her grandparents’ house. Battin Elementary School dates from the 1930s, although Clackamas County School District #54 held a deed as far back as 1917. The school was demolished and replaced with a Home Depot and other stores in 1989.

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