Sunday, January 12, 2014

Second Growth

Here are a few photos of Second Growth, the art at the Albina/Mississippi MAX station. It follows a common design in recent TriMet art: A visual riff on the local neighborhood, set on top of a pole so casual vandals can't reach it. I think I'm going to start calling these things "lollipops". Anyway, TriMet's yellow line Art guide describes the concept behind the station:

Wayne Chabre created symbols of the indomitable spirit of the community.

  • A bronze, tree-like vine flowers with forms representing the arts of the area.
  • Bronze benches incorporate images from neighborhood industries.
  • The community map by Chabre and Jeanne McMenemy features lyrics of songs from cultures of historic importance to Albina.
  • Works by Jacob Pander and Bill Rutherford are reproduced in porcelain enamel on steel.

Second Growth is the bronze tree-like vine. The artist's website describes it:

This piece celebrates the history of the surrounding neighborhood, where jazz clubs flourished in the 20s & 30s; an area that is now largely industrial, but which continues to re-imagine itself. It is home to such diverse enterprises as a brewery and an art glass factory, two of several businesses that are represented in the sculpture.

Chabre also created Connections at the county office building on Hawthorne, which I rather liked. There's an obvious family resemblance between the two pieces.

A Daily Journal of Commerce story about Second Growth says "The piece of art – a plant bursting from the pavement and flowering into musical and art icons – is designed to symbolize the surrounding area’s urban renewal rebirth after years of battling neglect and racism." This interpretation is sort of... problematic. Redemption via urban renewal is not, strictly speaking, what really happened to NE Portland. Not during the heyday of urban renewal in the 60s and 70s, and not now in the era of transit-driven gentrification. I realize the DJC is a business paper focusing on the construction trade, but still. When the PDC bulldozers came to this part of town, they were not greeted as liberators. Call me crazy if you want, but I like to think that historical accuracy still matters.

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