Sunday, January 26, 2014

In the Tree Tops

Some photos of In the Tree Tops, the pair of bright red figures at NE 12th & Broadway, at an outdoor portion of Lloyd Center Mall. Walking Portland mentions that this was one of the artworks selected by the mall's owners when Lloyd Center was reconstructed in 1990, along with the Capitalism fountain at the mall's SW corner; the Free Flow fountain in the south-side parking garage; the house-shaped display boxes of consumer goods in the same garage; and probably a few others here and there that I'm not aware of. The artist's website just mentions In the Tree Tops in passing in her bio.

Some time in the 1990s (I'm not sure which year), Willamette Week's annual Best of Portland issue proclaimed it "Best Public Sculpture":

In a breezeway between Northeast Weidler Street and Broadway, in what was once part of the Lloyd Center back before its open-air corridors were enclosed by cheap siding, right outside the last Newberry's in town, stands one of the weirdest sculptures in Portland, a city rotten with weird public art.IN THE TREETOPS, or The Radish People, as it's affectionately known, consists of two humanoid figures standing side by side, their red, semi-glossy skin innocently unadorned. On top of their bony, elongated bodies perch gentle, Modigliani-style heads that gaze down tenderly at a house-shaped stone cradled in their long, extraterrestrial fingers. Out of their downturned heads grow lobster-red branches sprouting bright green leaves, and both pairs of skinny legs end in a single, tangled rootball. Are they emissaries from an underground kingdom? Mascots of a vanished Oregon industry? Like some misbegotten gene-splice between Will Vinton and Giacometti, the radish people are at once crude and empathetic, cutesy and mysterious, adorable and horrifying. Mostly adorable, though.

I've never heard anyone call it "The Radish People". Maybe that was a short-lived fad. I was about to say "The Radish People" was also a cheap 50s Sci-Fi movie, but I was probably thinking of "Attack of the Mushroom People". An honest mistake on my part.

This is about all the info I've got for you, but I did come across a fair number photos other people have taken of In the Tree Tops. It seems to attract passing cyclists a lot, for whatever reason. Here's a selection:

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