Friday, February 28, 2014

Goose Hollow Goose

Portland's Kings Hill MAX station (around SW 18th & Salmon) includes a roughly life size statue of a goose. Because this is part of the Goose Hollow neighborhood, therefore geese. TriMet's art guide for the MAX Blue Line just says "A bronze goose by Rip Caswell was commissioned by the neighborhood association". Which is TriMet's polite way of saying the goose wasn't their idea. As I recall, the whole Kings Hill stop wasn't exactly TriMet's idea; the original plan for the westside Blue Line had a stop at the stadium, and a stop at 18th & Jefferson, and nothing in between. But richer heads prevailed, and the final design also included this new stop next to the swanky Multnomah Athletic Club. And then there was a fundraising drive for the goose, and donors got their names semi-immortalized in bricks at the MAX station. I'm going to guess that these donations came via some sort of high society fundraising gala, dutifully reported on by the Oregonian's society page, because that's how rich person projects always work here.

If the artist's name sounds familiar, it might be because he also created Strength of America, the weird little 9/11 memorial at SW 35th & Belmont. I'm not really a fan of that 9/11 whatzit, but this goose is ok. It's anatomically accurate, at least. I'm not sure what to say about it really. It's certainly 100% less homicidal than actual geese, so there's that. The goose is officially titled Goose Hollow and it seems you can get one of your very own for a cool $10k or so. His website indicates he primarily does animals, deer and elk in particular. I don't claim to be an expert on bronze ungulates, but it would be interesting to see one of those elk next to Portland's famous Thompson Elk fountain/statue, just to see how they stack up. My sneaking suspicion is that one of these contemporary elk would come out ahead, and we'd realize that our locally famous mid-street elk is actually not that great, and for the last 114 years nobody's been willing to come out and state the obvious. Which is entirely plausible in a conflict-averse city like this. It's worth pointing out that the local Elks Club -- people who probably know more about elk than I do -- refused to help dedicate the Thompson Elk, calling it "a monstrosity of art". Much later, they commissioned a Caswell elk statue for the OHSU eye clinic just a few years ago. The two events are many decades apart, to be sure, but it still seems like an interesting data point.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Drawing on the River

In Cathedral Park, next to one of the St. Johns bridge supports, a mysterious steel wall stands in the middle of a grassy lawn. This is Drawing on the River, a relatively recent (2008) addition to the park. Its RACC page has this to say:

This sculpture was conceived as a tribute to industrial ingenuity in the St. Johns area. Like the Saint Johns bridge above, it is a suspension structure anchored at each end. The hull-like end pieces allude to the shipbuilding that went on nearby and were constructed using standard steel shipbuilding techniques by Peninsula Iron Works, a third generation firm adjacent to the park. “Drawing on the River” reflects back on a century of industry in St. Johns and is an homage to both the mills and the workers who ran them. The piece also invokes the river itself, which powered the mills and is the reason the workers settled here.

What the description doesn't tell you, and what I didn't realize while I was visiting, is that the wall has a variety of interactive features too. (If you can get close to it; it seems like the lawn sprinklers around it are always going full blast whenever I visit Cathedral Park.) The artist's website explains:

Also within the sculpture’s end forms are a looking and a music box listening device, designed with longtime [Donald] Fels collaborators Rob Millis and Ed Mannery. To listen, a button is pushed winding a spring that turns a music box. One of the music boxes plays Hoagy Carmichael’s “Up a Lazy River”, which topped the hit-parade in 1931, the year the bridge was dedicated.

The other music box plays “Amazing Grace”, a tune played by fiddlers who accompanied Lewis and Clark, who camped there in 1805. The explorers used music to communicate with the natives they encountered on their journey. The viewers in the sculpture feature historic photos, one of a hot air balloon that was featured in the Lewis and Clark Expo in 1905, the other of the world’s first plywood mill, also once on the site.

One of the music box collaborators has a few close up photos on his website. The music boxes were mentioned in a November 2013 OPB article about RACC art maintenance & conservation, as they were experiencing a bit of rust. There could be other reasons behind the rust, but I'm inclined to blame the sprinklers. The wall's also needed pressure washing for graffiti at least once so far. The pressure washing company's Facebook page is actually kind of interesting. More than I would have expected anyway.

Another fun detail is how Drawing on the River was funded. Since the 1970s, the city's "1% For Art" program has mandated that publicly funded construction projects should devote one percent of the total cost toward public art. The wall here is no exception, but looking around you won't see any circa-2008 public buildings nearby. In fact, it was created with surplus 1% For Art funds from the still-unopened Wapato Jail, in the far corner of industrial North Portland. It turns out that the rules only say how much project money goes for art, and they don't specify exactly where the art has to be. The jail cost $58 million, and 1% of that is still a big chunk of money, and the then-sheriff felt it was a waste to spend it all at the jail where law abiding citizens would never see it. So some of the money went here, and (as a snarky Portland Public Art post points out), some also went to nature-themed stuff around Smith & Bybee Lakes, and a sort of river piling-themed piece at the jail itself. Naturally the whole thing got the talk radio crowd all riled up about the gol-durned commie gummint spending money on highfalutin' art. Even though the rest of the money went to an enormous jail, which you'd think they'd be pretty stoked about. Haters gonna hate, I guess.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Front & Curry Community Garden

Here are a few off-season photos of the Front & Curry Community Garden, at... ok, the address is actually Curry St. and Naito Parkway since this part of Front Avenue was renamed in 1996. The city hasn't gotten around to renaming the garden itself yet, for whatever reason. Anyway, I realize gardens aren't that photogenic in mid-January, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, but I happened to be in the neighborhood. I was fetching a pizza from Caro Amico nearby, if you must know. I guess it's mildly ironic to take photos of the neighborhood vegetable garden while loading up on pepperoni and cheese, and then crashing on the sofa to watch the Olympics.

The city parks website says the land here was acquired in 1952, but the city's community garden program didn't officially begin until the 1970s with the first one at Sewallcrest Park in SE Portland. So I'm not really sure what was here in the intervening time. If I had to guess, I'd guess it was a vacant lot left over from the Front Ave. widening circa 1940, and the city ended up with it later but never did anything with it until hippies arrived and wanted to go back to the land without leaving the big city. I'm speculating here because the historical record (by which I mean the Oregonian database) doesn't have a lot to say about the area.

The few historical items I've found, none of any particular consequence:

  • The 1892 Mayor's Message mentions there was a fire hydrant here back then, at a time when city fire hydrants were still something of a novelty.
  • Rosie the Riveter got a DUI here in March 1943.
  • An October 1946 DUI with a twist: The offender was arrested here while driving home after her husband had been arrested for a separate DUI incident a few blocks north at First & Sheridan.
  • An ugly land use conflict in August 1958: A landowner right around here was trying to appeal the denial of a zoning change, which led her realtor representative to go off on a two hour angry conspiracy-laden rant in front of the city council. Councillors stated they generally favored the landowner's position but were quite put off by her representative's manner. I haven't found a follow up article stating what the council eventually decided, though all the buildings here look heavily pre-1958 so I would guess the proposal didn't go through.
  • The one and only mention of the garden, in a March 1979 article about community garden sites. It's just describes as an unnamed lot at SW Front & Curry, so I'm guessing it was new at the time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Angle of Repose

If you've been following this humble blog in the last few months, you've probably noticed that many posts here have resulted from me noticing a place or thing in one of the databases I tend to peek at. Lately it's been the RACC (Regional Arts & Culture Council) and the Smithsonian art inventory, with a smattering of Bridgehunter/Structurae and Portland city parks items as well. A thing I've noticed about these lists is how arbitrary they can be about what's included and what isn't. I've lost track now of how many city parks I've run across that the city neglects to list on its website, and as far as I can tell the main criteria for whether a bridge goes on Bridgehunter is whether a site administrator likes the bridge or not. The RACC database criteria seem to be a.) it's inside Portland city limits, despite the 'Regional' in the name; b.) it's either old and well-known, or new and funded with 1% for Art funds, channeled through RACC. In the latter case, the resulting product isn't always something you'd automatically think of as capital-A Art.

Which brings us to the subject of today's post. Angle of Repose is a little gazebo on the lawn of NE Portland's Matt Dishman Community Center. It's in the RACC database, I suppose thanks to how it was funded; its RACC page has this to say:

This covered seating area is located in front of the Matt Dishman Community Center and acts as an outdoor focal point for community members. The artist combined traditional porch designs based on historic Victorian architecture in the area with an urban plaza where people are encouraged to meet and interact.

It seemed a bit weird to show up and take photos of the community center's little gazebo, but it was in the database, and I was on my way between two colorful painted intersections, so I figured I'd stop briefly and take a look. So here it is. The city's probably gotten a lot more public use and enjoyment with the gazebo than they would have if they'd added the usual big bronze salmon or something. It's just kind of sad that useful items have to masquerade as decorative items because the funding picture is better that way.

"Angle of repose" is a technical term from physics, by the way. Wikipedia defines it as "the steepest angle of descent or dip relative to the horizontal plane to which a material can be piled without slumping". Which I imagine explains the steep pitch of the gazebo roof. I can't say one way or the other whether the name is accurate or not; it was just starting to snow when I walked by, and it hadn't begun to accumulate yet, so I have no idea whether the snow ended up sticking or sliding off the thing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Arcade Ceiling, Justice Center

I've said a few times that this blog project around Portland-area public art was close to completion, and that hasn't quite happened yet. I've long since covered the well-known and popular public artworks here, so I'm left with increasingly obscure stuff, assorted odds and ends that I've come across in various databases. Which is actually an interesting place to be the project, because these remaining items are generally things I wouldn't have ever noticed or taken an interest in otherwise. Case in point: The previous post covered the travertine columns outside Portland's downtown Justice Center, which I'd never paid any attention to before. It turns out the Justice Center's ground-floor arcade has a glass tile ceiling that's also considered capital-A Art; I didn't realize it was even there until recently, since I've never had any business at the Justice Center, and I don't think I'd ever even walked up the front steps before. Its RACC page says:

In this piece, artist Liz Mapelli responded to the need for artwork that would emphasize Portland’s history, the beauty of its natural setting, and the Justice Center’s community role with this harmonious design of rose-and-gray Venetian glass tiles set around her own richly colored glass pieces. Working from her studio, a renovated dairy barn, she fused the glass using a rare, time-consuming process that may have been developed in ancient Egypt.
Arcade Ceiling, Justice Center

The checkerboard rose, grey, black & white pattern is possibly the most 1980s thing I have seen in a long, long time. I mean, it's the tasteful kind of 1980s design, maybe even too tasteful for a building that includes the city jail. It's just that there's no mistaking what era it's from, the same way that ugly orange and brown tile screams mid-1970s (until someone sends in a wrecking ball).

Mapelli also created the circa-1991 giant handbag design on the side of a Lloyd Center parking garage, which also appeared on this humble blog quite recently, and which -- again -- I'd paid precisely zero attention to until I blundered into this current project. Speaking of the project, I still think I'm closing in on closing it out. Either I'll run completely out of things to track down, or more likely, the scattered remaining items would all involve driving out to Woodburn or Battle Ground for yet another example of Heroic Salmon Swimming Upstream, and I'll finally decide the diminishing returns aren't worth it. And then we can move on to some other thrilling project that I can bore the world about for a few months.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Portland Columns

Photos of The Portland Columns, the two travertine pillars outside the entrance to Portland's downtown Justice Center. I hadn't immediately realized they were Art, and not just architectural details of the building, but that's what all the databases say, so who am I to argue? The RACC page says this:

The “Portland Columns” by Walter Dusenberry were installed in 1983 as part of Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program for the Justice Center. The travertine columns were carved in Pietrasanta, Italy, where Dusenberry works 9 months out of the year. He chose travertine for their golden color and because the semi-crystalline limestone becomes more intense when water hits it, “almost like it is illuminated from inside” which is significant in Portland’s heavy rain. The Italians, who use it for fountains, say travertine “has muscles and nerves”. The columns are slightly asymmetrical, “like justice, they arrive at the same conclusion by different paths.”

The artist's website has a few photos of the columns, taken in sunny, dry weather, for comparison. I do like the idea of something designed to look its best when wet, since that's more or less our default weather situation here. Off the top of my head it's the only example I can think of. I suppose doing this is the sort of concept that seems perfectly obvious once someone else has thought of it. The endless coping-with-stormwater artworks don't count; that's a whole other genre (and a weirdly popular one here). Anyway, it would probably help if the columns looked less like the building they adorn; you'd get roughly the same effect with travertine lions or caryatids or something, and then people would at least notice them a bit more.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Memorial Column, NE 13th & Burnside

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A few years ago, the city of Portland finally did something about the accident-prone intersection of East Burnside, Sandy Boulevard, and 12th Avenue, after a few decades of the public complaining about it. Not everyone loves the resulting Burnside-Couch couplet, but at least the one crazy intersection isn't so crazy anymore. The change involved closing the 2 block diagonal stretch of Sandy between 12th and 14th, as well as one block of NE 13th between Burnside and Couch. The resulting two-block area is supposed to be redeveloped someday, presumably into upscale condos or something. The couplet was the previous mayor's baby and the whole thing seems to have lost momentum after the last election. So for the most part the traffic flow shift is the only thing that's changed so far.

One thing they've managed to do here is jackhammer up part of the former 13th Avenue and turn it into a meandering bioswale, thanks to the city's ongoing obsession with stormwater management. At the Burnside end of the bioswale is a tall metal sculpture with a series of stainless steel fins projecting up from a concrete block. You may have guessed from the post title (and from the general artsy theme I've been running with lately) that this sculpture is why we're here. I noticed it when driving past on Burnside a while back, made a mental note of it, and later tried the usual sources to see what I could find out about it. Searching RACC, the Smithsonian art database, and the library's Oregonian database all came up with nothing. No news stories, no press releases from the city, nothing. When I went to take these photos, I looked all over for a sign giving a title, maybe an artist, something explaining what it's about. I couldn't find a sign, so no luck there either.

So after searching the entire internet, I've found precisely two city documents that mention it. Because we're a deeply process-oriented city, the city's Transportation Bureau had to get a permit from the Bureau of Development Services (a.k.a. the city planning department) before proceeding with the bioswale project. The first pdf (containing the city's official approval of the plan) includes a diagram that calls it Memorial Column, and credits it to Lloyd D. Lindley and Nevue Ngan Associates, while the second (the city's permit application) includes detailed schematics. I see that the sculpture was created by urban designers and landscape architects, so it looks like the local public art community wasn't involved here. Which I guess would explain why it's not in the RACC database. The approval doc explains that the bioswale might be only temporary, assuming the eventual swanky condo towers come with bioswales of their own, but the sculpture has to stay, regardless. The approval further explains "The tall vertical element reveals this important place from a few blocks away" and "As a memorial to a PBOT employee, the proposed column integrates Portland as a theme". The phrasing there is because the city planners have to explain how the design furthers their design goals, and "integrating Portland as a theme" (whatever that means) is apparently one of those goals.

So that's all I know. There are some obvious open questions: Who is this a memorial to? And why? There's obviously more to the story, but for the life of me I can't seem to answer those questions. You'd think there would have been a press release, a dedication ceremony, maybe some news stories, adoring quotes by former PBOT coworkers praising the honoree perhaps. But I can't find any record of any of these things. That seems like an odd oversight, if it was an oversight. And if it wasn't an oversight, but an attempt to downplay the whole thing, that would raise additional questions. I have no idea. As always, if you happen to have the missing puzzle pieces in your possession, feel free to leave a comment below and help sort out the mystery. Thx. Mgmt.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Untitled, NE 9th & Halsey

Lately this humble blog has spent a surprising amount of time hanging out at inner NE Portland's Lloyd Center Mall. Not for the shopping, and not for the food court, but because I've been doing this silly public art project lately, and the Smithsonian's art database has half a dozen entries right around the mall. I've already covered five of them, so I figured I might as well track down the sixth and complete the set. At the northwest corner of the mall, on the side of a multistory parking garage, is a large painted aluminum screen with a picture of a floral-print handbag. The database says this is Untitled, by Elizabeth Mapelli, circa 1991 (i.e. it went in as part of the mall's big remodel that year). The database entry is pretty terse so initially I wasn't sure what to look for, but a PDC "Wayfinding and Public Art Handbook" for the area includes a small photo, and it wasn't hard to figure out from there. The photo must be fairly old, given the lack of trees in front of the garage, and the junky early 1980s car in the foreground.

Today's inevitable end-of-post tangent: Apparently the artist once owned a vintage Pullman railcar, converted into a residential private railroad car and parked on a rail siding near OMSI. She put it up for sale in 2012, after realizing the spent much of her time traveling outside the country & wasn't really using the railcar. A fun 2011 Washington Post article peeks at the world of private railcars; it seems like the sort of hobby one gets into if one has money to burn, but yachting is too mainstream, and one cannot quite afford a private zeppelin. Monocle optional.

Icons of Transformation

Here's another stop on our occasional tour of the art along the MAX Yellow Line; I don't already have a full set of photos like I did with the Green Line last year, so posts are likely to show up with haphazard timing and in no particular order. Today's stop takes us to the Overlook Park station, which sits next to the park of the same name. The north and southbound stations each have a glass tower featuring a number of faces. TriMet's art guide for the Yellow Line says of them:

Fernanda D'Agostino was inspired by research on the healing power of light and nature.
  • Light towers modeled after roadside shrines in Poland feature portraits of community members overlaid with images of nature.
  • Art glass in the windscreen suggests the transforming power of nature.
  • Community map artist Margaret Eccles created a symbol for the relationship between good health and community.

D'Agostino's website bio has one line mentioning this project, which is how I know what it's called. The Yellow Line guide annoyingly doesn't mention key details like that.

The Polish theme is here thanks to the St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic church just north of the MAX station, while the health theme is due to the nearby Kaiser medical center. The more I read about the endless MAX design process, the more I realize just how much diplomacy and compromise went into the design of each station. (And how else would we get a hybrid Polish/healthcare themed station here, and a hybrid maritime/stormwater theme at the Prescott station?) A Catholic Sentinel article (which focuses primarily on the Polish aspect of the MAX station) gives an indication of what the project was like:

'I wanted to show how people's inner life, whoever they are, is really, really rich,' says D'Agostino, who worked with a 175-year-old German stained-glass company to produce the multi-colored and multi-layered panels.

'I wanted the towers to mean something to anybody whatever their spiritual life, whether they are a secular humanist, or a Catholic or a Jew. I was thinking of the spirit as people's inner life and I was getting into people's heads. . . . I was after what gives people a sense of wonder.'

Initial art committee meetings about two years ago presented a 'conundrum,' D'Agostino said. Prevalent in the committee were members of the Polish community, which has peopled St. Stanislaus Parish and a community hall on North Interstate Avenue for a century. But also in the group were representatives of Kaiser Permanente health clinics at the station site and who pushed for some kind of healthcare motif. Added to that were neighborhood leaders touting racial diversity and conservationists pointing to the area's reputation as a gateway to nature.

This is a city that loves process, or at least a city that's easily intimidated by people who love process. I imagine most artists (and most people in general) wouldn't be too thrilled about partnering with a micromanaging Committee of Concerned Citizens and Umpteen Other Stakeholders. I used to wonder why so many TriMet commissions go to the same five or six people, year in and year out; I'm sure tolerance for process pain is a big part of the answer. A track record of delivering on time and on budget probably doesn't hurt either. Possibly we ought to consider sending a few of them to the state legislature. I'm not saying we'd be better off, but I doubt we'd be any worse off.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Overlook Feng Shui

I've been on a bit of a roll with the City Repair painted intersections lately. "Overlook Feng Shui" is one of the more elaborate ones, at the crazy-angled intersection of N. Failing, Concord, Melrose, & Overlook. Instead of one circle in the middle of the intersection, there are about half a dozen smaller circes scattered around the intersection, each with its own design. The Overlook neighborhood association website has a page about the project with an overhead diagram, which gives a somewhat better idea of what the design as a whole looks like. I don't claim to be a feng shui guru (as lucrative as that would be), so I have no idea whether the design complies with that particular superstition.

Oddly enough I ran across a Facebook page opposing the intersection painting, albeit in a wishy-washy "some people argue that..." sort of way. Overlook has a bit more of a conventional, respectable feel to it than some of the other neighborhoods that host intersection paintings -- at least by Portland eastside standards -- so the whole utopian hippie community-building vibe may not hold the same universal appeal it has closer to Hawthorne and Belmont, for example. I note that as far as I know, the Laurelhurst, Alameda, Irvington, and Westmoreland neighborhoods can't boast a single painted intersection between them. I suppose that would lower the tone or something.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Consumer Reliquaries

Today's adventure takes us back to Lloyd Center again (honestly, I'm not taking kickbacks from them or anything), this time to the parking garage on the south side of the mall. If you go to the ground floor and look closely, you'll eventually run across Consumer Reliquaries, a series of small birdhouse-shaped metal boxes, each containing a common consumer object or two, showcased as if they're precious objects or holy relics on display. That Smithsonian inventory entry (link above) is pretty terse:

SCULPTOR: Bourdette, Christine 1952-
MEDIUM:   bronze, glass, steel, found objects, electric lights

Like the nearby In the Tree Tops and the Capitalism fountain, Consumer Reliquaries arrived in 1991 as part of the Lloyd Center remodel. During the Reagan-Bush era, there was a hot genre of art like this about consumerism, kitsch, and pop culture. Sometimes celebrating it, other times satirizing it, and often a bit of both. This one seems to be a bit of both. The last time I posted a photo of one of the boxes was back in 2006, after someone had slightly vandalized it, pushing the needle further to the satire end of the dial.

(Apologies for the scatterbrained 2006 blog post, by the way. I was home sick with a cold that day and cobbled together a post with some random photos I had lying around, followed by some random links from my RSS feed. Those would all go to Twitter or Tumblr now, but back then neither had been invented yet, and every day we blogged six miles through the snow, uphill, both ways. I like to think I've gotten better at this blog business since 2006, or at least I've found a sorta-interesting niche to stick to.)

Anyway, Bourdette also created Snails in Fields Park, and Cairns at the north end of the downtown Transit Mall. Neither have anything to do with consumer culture, as far as I know; the art world's moved on since 1991, or at least the city's public art buyers have.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

NE Tillamook & Rodney

Today's cheerfully painted intersection is at NE Tillamook & Rodney. In addition to the usual floral theme, this one features bees and musical notes. Last year's painting announcement (from the Eliot neighborhood association) describes it as a "lovely design based on our collaboratively chosen themes: gardens & food, historic Eliot, and diversity/multiculturalism.". Willamette Week posted a video clip of last June's street painting / neighborhood block party.

That's all I've got regarding the street graphic here, but I checked the Oregonian database and I do have a few colorful petty crime stories from the early & mid 20th century, things that happened right here at this very intersection....

  • November 7th, 1919, in a story about local policemen becoming victims of petty crime themselves.

    A burglar stripped the automobile of Inspector Tom Swennes while it was standing at Rodney avenue and Tillamook street Wednesday night. The man is said to have attempted to drive the car away. When he failed in that he took everything moveable, including the lights.
  • "Police Stage 'Holdup'", January 30th 1928.

    Visioning a wholesale holdup in progress, Police Sergeant Johnson and Motorcycle Patrolmen Gaunt and Stockdale, emergency men of precinct No. 2, made a hurry-up call to Rodney avenue and Tillamook street about midnight Saturday.

    An excited citizen had telephoned that several persons were holding their hands in the air at that address, while two or three others were searching them.

    "Arriving," the policemen succinctly reported, "we found the morals squad at work in a house in the neighborhood."

    Sadly the article fails to mention what the morals squad was doing here, or what these unnamed persons were being detained for.

  • "Gun Toter Booked", September 30th 1957.

    Robert R. Isom, 26, [address], who was carrying a loaded shotgun and an empty rifle while walking at N.E. Rodney avenue and Tillamook street, was arrested Sunday on a charge of unauthorized carrying of firearms. He told police he was carrying the guns because a man had threatened to kill him. He was booked into city jail under $100 bail.

    (Note: The Oregonian used to habitually print the home addresses of people mentioned in the paper whenever they could lay hands on that information. I've swapped those out for "[address]" because I think that was a bizarre and invasive practice and I don't care for it. Maybe I'm being oversensitive, but hey, I make the rules here.)

  • "Man Robbed of Cash, Ring", August 18th 1966.

    A 42-year-old man was robbed by three men Wednesday morning, after a drive with a woman he had met in Southwest Portland.

    Joseph Richard Harrier, [address], told police that he had given the woman a ride in his car after she asked if he would like to go to a party. He said that they drove to near NE Rodney Avenue and Tillamook Street where she asked him to stop the car.

    Harrier said that, when he stopped the car, three men approached the car, took the woman, his wallet, $185 in cash, and a $120 gold ring.

Kerns United

Today's adventure takes us to yet another colorful intersection repair, this time at NE 24th & Everett. This one's sometimes called "Kerns United", Kerns being the surrounding neighborhood. The local neighborhood association organized (or at least got the word out about) the most recent painting in June 2013; in fact the design is more or less identical to the neighborhood association logo. I'm not sure which one came first. The intersection is also the background to the neighborhood association's Facebook page.

I don't have any fun historical items to pass along this time, but apparently there was a bald eagle sighting right around here in March 2013. If you're in the area and happen to see an eagle, today's helpful protip is to not stand directly under the bird. If it decides to crap on you, you're not going to like it. The force and sheer volume they can manage is kind of amazing, in a disgusting sort of way. I was narrowly missed once while driving in the Olympic Peninsula. I figure I probably would have gone off the road and crashed if the bird had scored a hit on the windshield. So I can only imagine what a well-fed urban eagle could do to a passing cyclist if it wanted to. In short, watch out for the eagle menace.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Moonshadow Park

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Today's adventure takes us to the sorta-Portland, sorta-Beaverton borderlands of Garden Home, and the enticingly-named Moonshadow Park. I absolutely admit it went on my todo list strictly because of the name. After a little research, it turns out the place is named after the surrounding late-1970s subdivision, which in turn may or may not be named after the 1971 Cat Stevens song. That sort of thing typically goes unreported-on and unrecorded in real estate news stories. I found a vintage clip of the song on YouTube to try to liven this post up a little. I'd forgotten what a strange and gruesome little song it is. I assume life in its namesake neighborhood isn't quite so gory.

Anyway, back in the 70s this was the site of a rather acrimonious land use battle. Back then there were still large undeveloped tracts of land here and there in the Garden Home area, and 70s also saw the rise of the modern environmental movement -- particularly in Oregon -- so battles over infill development were common. A 1975 proposal for either this plot or another nearby was fought off by the "Friends of Ash Creek Woods". (Ash Creek being the creek that flows through the park here.) The Moonshadow proposal came up in 1979 and quickly met with opposition from homeowners in surrounding neighborhoods, one of their several concerns being that development would adversely affect the creek. Washington County eventually approved the proposal, and creating a public park along Ash Creek was part of the finalized deal.

In retrospect, the concerned neighbors may have been on to something. In 1996, a US Fish & Wildlife study described ongoing creek restoration efforts in Moonshadow Park. The problems were the usual Portland park problems: Degraded water quality, erosion, and an influx of English ivy and Himalayan blackberry. As of last year, Metro was still organizing volunteer work parties to try to control invasive plants in the park.

I do need to apologize for the single low quality photo in this post. The park's in the middle of its namesake subdivision, and there isn't any dedicated parking for the park. I would have just parked on the street in front of the main entrance (such as it is), but there was a postal van in the way just then and I didn't feel like circling the block or parking in front of someone's house. So I snapped a quick photo of the sign and went on my merry way. I figured this was ok because the park was mostly on my list due to the name but I kind of regret not getting out of my car for this, or at least for not rolling down the window when I took the photo.

Tête à Tête à Tête

In SE Portland's Brooklyn Park, a trio of rounded boulders sit at the top of a hill overlooking the park's baseball diamond. On closer inspection, you'll note the boulders have faces carved into them, like lazy slacker moai, and they're positioned as if watching a baseball game from the cheap seats. This is Tête à Tête à Tête, a sculpture installed in 1996, just after I moved out of the Brooklyn neighborhood. Its RACC page has this to say about it:

The solid granite stones (each weighing 2-3 tons) for Tête à Tête à Tête were hand-picked by artist Marcia Donahue in Bakersfield, CA and sculpted in her Oakland studio. The pieces were intended as an “audience” for the baseball diamond in the park and Mt. St. Helens beyond it. Meant to be touched, Donahue designed the pieces to provide an invitation to focus inwardly on the immediate surroundings as well as towards the mountain beyond. The sculptures were inspired by the stone’s natural shape and by the long human tradition of sculpting human faces in stone.

A fun thing about living in the Brooklyn neighborhood was the sense you were in a small town inside the big city, without all the downsides of being in a real small town (nosy neighbors, xenophobia, lack of shopping options, etc.) Brooklyn is surrounded by industry and railroads on three sides, and the Willamette River on the fourth. You soon realize it's a lot more convenient to shop at local businesses and go to the neighborhood park rather than trek to some other part of town. I'm just going on my own very subjective observations here, but it seems like the Brooklyn Park baseball diamond gets used more often than those in other city parks. And used for baseball or softball, not just hipster pastimes like adult kickball. The park hosts neighborhood picnics in the summer, and the hill's good for sledding when it snows. It's probably more of a beginner sledding hill, but in this city, where it only snows every few years, just about everyone counts as a beginner, I think.

The requisite tangent for today: Ran across an animated short film from Canada, also titled "Tête à Tête à Tête", about three cartoon heads sharing a body. I'm trying to embed this from the National Film Board of Canada website, which I've never had occasion to do before, so we'll see if that really works or not. If not, the link below takes you to the film on their site instead.

Tête à Tête à Tête by Marv Newland, National Film Board of Canada

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Pendleton Park

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I tracked down SW Portland's Pendleton Park recently because of its giant rabbit statue (which I've already covered here), but I figured I ought to snap a couple of quick photos of the park itself and make the excursion a two-fer. Other than the monster bunny, it's your typical neighborhood park, with ball fields and a playground, with an elementary school right next door. Try as I might, I haven't come up with a single interesting note to share about the place. At least according to the Oregonian database, nothing newsworthy has ever happened here. Nearly all of its mentions of the place are real estate ads claiming the offered property is a short walk from the park, in an eminently respectable and desirable neighborhood, etcetera, etcetera.

One detail that stood out during my very brief visit was the line of trees along SW Iowa St. on the park's south side, which reminded me of the Vermont St. Park Blocks a few blocks further south; at the time I thought there might be a connection, maybe an early 20th century developer who couldn't get enough of orderly tree-lined boulevards. After looking at photos of the two next to each other, it turns out they don't actually look that similar. Hey, it was a theory. In lieu of interesting info to share, I have to come up with theories of my own about the place, and this isn't the last one.

Pendleton Park

The park's named for George Hunt Pendleton, a US Congressman from Ohio who's best known as George McClellan's running mate in the 1864 Presidential election, in which Abraham Lincoln was ultimately reelected. Pendleton ran as an antiwar candidate, which I gather meant wanting a negotiated end to the Civil War rather than a fight to the finish. Lincoln won Oregon's electoral votes by a relatively narrow 53% to 46% margin. A mere 1,431 vote margin, in fact, since at the time Oregon was a sparsely populated state and only 18,345 Oregonians voted in that election.

It isn't clear why Pendleton has both a city in Eastern Oregon, and a city park in Portland, named after him. I would have guessed the park was named after the town, since it wasn't formed until 1955, long after Pendleton the man had faded into historical obscurity. Gen. McClellan, at the top of the ticket, only merited a residential street in North Portland's Kenton neighborhood. (The street borders the Kenton Rose Garden, and at one point dead-ends into Fenwick Pocket Park.)

Regarding the name of the park, the historical record is sketchy, or at least the Oregonian database is, which is the most easily accessible historical record I know of. The city bought a 3.5 acre parcel at 55th & Iowa in 1955 as a future park, and bought an adjacent 2.5 acres in 1957, without mentioning any name for the place either time. The name does appear in 1959, when the city was in the middle of installing irrigation systems and contracting for port-a-potties for Little League ball fields. The actual naming of the park seems to have gone unrecorded by the local newspaper. Or at least the NewsBank OCR-based index can't seem to find it.

So in lieu of proof either way, I'm going to go with my theory that the park is named after the town, and not directly after the congressman. Not only was he an obscure footnote by the 50s, but the 50s were the heyday of movie and TV Westerns, and baby boomer kids apparently loved nothing more than playing cowboys & indians. Pendleton, Oregon is a famous, iconic Old West sort of place, and naming the neighborhood playground after it would've been popular with the kiddies, circa 1958 or so. So that's my theory. I'd always rather have evidence, but in the absence of evidence I go with the theory that seems least implausible, or the one I like the most if they all seem implausible.

Fenwick Pocket Park

A couple of photos of tiny Fenwick Pocket Park, at N. Interstate Avenue & Fenwick Avenue, not far from the Kenton MAX station. This was yet another piece of the public art project around the MAX station, other parts being Paul Bunyan, the blue ox hooves nearby, and some cattle designs at the station platform. The main event here is a set of architectural elements salvaged from the old Portland Union Stockyards building, once located just north of the Kenton neighborhood until it was demolished in 1998. The Yellow Line art guide says:

Fenwick Pocket Park
  • Terracotta fragments came from the Portland Union Stockyards building.
  • A mosaic medallion from the building's entryway was restored and embellished with a border.

I suppose they had to create a separate nano-park for the stockyard stuff; siting it in the same place as the Babe the Blue Ox hooves would have been in poor taste.


The stockyards were once a huge regional operation, the largest stockyard in the Northwest, and the major employer in this part of the city, and now they've entirely vanished, gone the way of the old Forestry Center building, the cable car ramp in Goose Hollow, and the giant Richfield sign in the West Hills. A 1956 Oregon State University agricultural bulletin, "The Portland Union Stock Yards, A Case Study in Livestock Marketing" explained how the stockyards operated, toward the tail end of their heyday.

The essential points of the Chicago Stockyards system that have been followed so closely by the other 65 stockyards markets of the United States are: (1) one corporation owns all the pens, scales, and feeding and loading facilities; (2) anyone is permitted to buy or sell but sellers usually employ a commission man who is familiar with the market to do his selling; (3) anyone with proper financial and moral responsibility may engage in the commission business, subject to approval by the United States Packers and Stockyards Division.

In addition to providing a trading place, al of these stockyards still perform their original functions of loading, unloading, feeding, and watering all animals arriving or leaving regardless of whether they are offered for sale. At some stockyards, such as Ogden and SaltLake, more than half of the animals arriving are merely stopped for feed, water, and rest and are then reloaded for other destinations, al without being offered for sale. In contrast, at Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, very few animals are reloaded for other destinations.
detail, fenwick pocket park

A PSU history project about the Kenton neighborhood (in connection with the MAX Yellow Line) explains that the decline and eventual closure came as the industry no longer needed a centralized middleman. The effect on the surrounding neighborhood was predictable.

By mid-century, however, the industry began to change. Centralized stockyards declined in popularity and the businesses that had long defined the landscape and lives of Kenton began to close. In 1966 the Swift Meat Company closed its doors. Just a few short years later, the Portland Stockyards closed after suffering years of declining sales. The once solidly working-class neighborhood fell into decline. Crime increased as businesses shut their doors, and long-time residents moved in search of jobs.

The paper then moves on to some wide-eyed enthusiasm about the coming renaissance of Kenton with mass transit and gentrification for all. Whatever. Anyway, elsewhere I ran across a couple of vintage stockyards photos if you're curious at all. Though obviously photos can't convey what it must have smelled like.


I realize I'm pointing out this fact about cows at my peril; the last time I pointed out that cows don't smell so great, a bunch of angry Facebook people showed up to complain about the fancy city slicker who doesn't know where food comes from. Trust me, my uncle had cows when I was a kid. I know where cheeseburgers come from. Doesn't mean I'm going to pretend cows smell like expensive cologne or fresh cookies baking or something. I mean, go ahead and complain anyway, I won't stop you. I'll even refund every cent you paid me to read this, if it makes you feel any better. Deal?

SE 16th & Ash

Here's another City Repair painted intersection, this time at SE 16th & Ash, a oouple of blocks south of East Burnside. Some of the street designs have names and others don't, and as far as I can tell this one doesn't. Their 2013 Village Builder guide just calls it SE 16th & Ash, anyway. As with most of the others, they went with a floral design, with a different flower and color for each arm of the intersection, all growing out of the central traffic circle. It's less complex than Sunnyside Piazza, for example; I imagine this is a function of how long it's been around, and how many people typically volunteer to work on it.

I should probably point out that these photos were taken in midwinter, in between paintings, so it's showing a little wear and tear right now. Part of the idea behind "intersection repairs" is that they need to be repainted every so often, thus helping people meet their neighbors, which fosters community spirit and so forth. So I guess I'm showing one part of that cycle in action, though I feel I ought to apologize for not presenting the design at its best. I did run across a blog post with a video of this intersection being painted, and a few photos of it in a less-worn state. Figured I should pass those along to give a better idea of how it's intended to look.

To go off on a tangent, while I was searching for any info about this design, I ran into an entirely different 16th & Ash in Forest Grove, a semi-rural gravel road the state film office thinks would make a fantastic filming location for some reason.

Untitled, NW 1st & Davis

These aren't the best neon photos you'll ever see. They're taken in daylight, for one thing. The neon isn't even lit. As far as I can tell the city never turns it on anymore, so these photos are probably the best I'm going to do. This is the public parking garage at NW 1st & Davis, and the neon art on it is simply called Untitled. That RACC page doesn't even have a description; it basically just says "David Kerner, Untitled, neon, 1990". But it does have a couple of night photos from back in the day, so to speak, so you can see how it was intended to look. If the page hadn't listed the date, 1990 would be the obvious guess anyway thanks to all the exciting festive triangles. If you, like me, are of a certain age, it's tough to look at all the triangles and not get "Pump up the Jam" stuck in your head:

One could argue that possibly the triangles look a little, I dunno, dated, and maybe that makes them a lower maintenance priority than they otherwise would be. I'm not arguing that myself, mind you, because if the triangles are dated, so am I. But it's an argument I could imagine someone making.

Updated 2/6/23:A few weeks ago I updated this post to lead with a slideshow, and so I remembered this 'rad' neon art when I saw it last night after drinks with coworkers. It was even on and fully illuminated (which still seems to be a hit-and-miss thing 9 years later) and I remembered I had no photos of that, so I took some and added them to the photoset. They aren't all winners, honestly, largely due to the aforementioned drinks with coworkers, but hey. Also fixed the RACC link above, which they broke in a recent site redesign, and added a map to give a better look at the building. You can even zoom in a bit more and kind of see the art if you squint just right.

Untitled, NW 1st & Davis

The artist is apparently from Wisconsin originally. I ran across a Milwaukee (WI) Journal article from 1985 about a show at the city's art museum, "Technology in Art". Being 1985, technology in art seems to have involved primitive computer graphics and lots of creative Xeroxing. The creator of our Untitled gets a mention for his neon work in the show:

David Kerner skilfully captures our era's formal power and theoretical fragmentation in "Elegant Chaos", a controlled explosion of neon tubing that makes brilliant use of the inherent power of negative space.

That's the only description I've run across of anything created by him, and I don't think it tells us anything about our Untitled here. I was kind of hoping there would be more of a story here, something beyond "Random 1990 decorative item, but funded through 1% For Art so it's in the public art database". It would be cooler if it was illustrating various theorems of Euclidean geometry, say. It doesn't quite look like it is, but I've only worked through the first couple of books of Euclid so I could be wrong. It could also be an ironic Kasimir Malevich reference, timely due to the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year. I can dream up of lots of interesting stories; I just kind of doubt any of them are true, though.

I did find one link where he (or a different upper Midwest artist by the same name) is credited as a former assistant to a well-known Wisconsin glass artist, whose work was showcased in a 2012 retrospective. Which is kind of a tangent, but there's some interesting (and quite varied) work at that link if you're interested in modern glass art.

Untitled, NW 1st & Davis

The SmartPark garage here was built around the same time the neon went in; construction was delayed because of extensive pollution at the site. Before the present-day garage, this block was home to a Broadway Cab taxi facility with underground gasoline tanks. And before the taxi garage, it was home to a gas lighting facility around the turn of the 20th Century, which left the soil full of coal tar. Yecch. Maybe it's for the best that a parking garage went here rather than apartments or condos.

The garage's roof is home to the Portland Downtown Heliport, which has the FAA designation "61J". It opened along with the building but was not immediately successful; the expected flood of busy and important executives never really arrived. Helicopters as a mode of fast VIP transportation doesn't seem to have caught on here among people who could afford it. One problem being that there aren't a lot of other heliports in the area, so you're limited in where you could go from here no matter how big of a hurry you're in. Unless you're willing to land in a parking lot or a field or something, and there are probably FAA rules about that, and anyway it lacks glamor that way. The city website doesn't offer any info about our municipal heliport as far as I can tell, and these days it seems to cater exclusively to TV news helicopters. If you see a helicopter taking off from the garage here, and it isn't time for the morning or evening commute, there's probably a police chase in progress, or there's a protest downtown, or another missing hiker out in the Gorge.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Sunnyside Piazza

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If you happen upon the quiet intersection of SE 33rd and Yamhill, just one block south of Belmont, you'll immediately notice the intersection's painted up as a gigantic sunflower. This is Sunnyside Piazza, one of the first and best-known "intersection repair" efforts from Portland's City Repair Project. I've posted photos of a couple of other examples that I've run across, and I have a couple more of them in the pipeline. I guess I like these things because they're so idealistic. I tend to be a cynical person by nature, and a bit on the antisocial side; these community projects are a little antidote to my usual stomping around and scowling at the world, I guess. It's not the specific designs, exactly (though I'm fond of the spiral sunflower design here), but that they're impermanent and require a big neighborhood block party every year to repaint them. So I imagine that not all of these things will endure after the initial burst of enthusiasm wears off. And it's not like it's practical to do one at every intersection; you'd run out of willing neighborhood volunteers long before that.

It's a shame there's nowhere to put one in my downtown neighborhood. All the streets around here are way too busy, and most of them have MAX or streetcar tracks running through them. It's a shame because I think I'd be pretty good at brainstorming designs. The moon, maybe, or a giant octopus, or a Deep Space Nine wormhole, or Pac-Man, or a crop circle, or maybe a Sarlacc pit, or a surreal Escher design to confuse passing motorists. Some of these might be a bit tough for amateur street painters to pull off in a weekend, though, and others might have trademark issues. Feel free to swipe any of these notions for your local intersection if you like though.

Couple of links about Sunnyside Piazza and places like it:

  • Nomination for a Project for Public Spaces award.
  • City Repair page about the annual repainting, part of their city-wide "Village Building Convergence". It describes the project:

    One of the most famous and iconic of all the city's intersection projects, the re-painting of the Sunflower is a long standing tradition during the Village Building Convergence and this year is no different.

    This project is one of the few public places in the world to incorporate Fibonacci geometry. With its vibrant colors of yellow, orange, red and green, this street piazza is considered by many to be the heart of the Sunnyside Neighborhood, whose symbol is the Sunflower. With the Sunflower just a block off bustling Belmont street, this intersection is admired daily by neighbors and local business patrons alike.

  • A short YouTube time lapse clip of the 2011 repainting.
  • Info page from the metal fabrication firm that created some of the metal work that goes along with the street design here.
  • A positive 2009 OregonLive article, since the paper hadn't yet evolved into today's hysterical right-wing tabloid. There aren't even any angry all-caps comments below the story.
  • A nice Sightline Daily article about the "intersection repair" phenomenon.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Flight of Birds

Today's art foray takes us to Lloyd Center again. This is Flight of Birds, another Tom Hardy bird sculpture, which hangs over the escalators at the mall food court. I'd never really paid much attention to it until now, but it turns out Flight of Birds is one of the few remaining vestiges of the original groovy 1960 open-air mall.

A July 31st 1960 Oregonian article describes Flight of Birds along with the other (now vanished) examples of then-avant-garde art the mall had commissioned:

A flight of steel birds will soar over the east end of the Lloyd Center skating rink as one of the market's principal objects d'art.

Constructed by Oregon artist Tom Hardy, the 30-foot long assembly of metal-winged birds will be suspended from a barrel vaulted ceiling.

Some 70 feet above the rink, the "Flight of Birds" was made of 10 and 16 gauge steel and painted gold to show up against a white overhead.

Hardy, artist in residence at Reed College, cut sheet steel and welded it together for many weeks before the aerial sculpture was completed.

Commerce promoted art at Lloyd Center back then, and art returned the favor. The long-vanished Sieberts home furnishing store in the mall held a show of Hardy sculptures to coincide with the unveiling of Flight of Birds:

Sieberts at Lloyd Center is presenting a one-man show for Tom Hardy using the artist's huge "Birds in Flight" done for the Ice Arena as inspiration for the exhibition of smaller Hardy works.

Since Hardy's welded metal sculptures are becoming increasingly popular for home interiors and patios the store has arranged this showing in conjunction with furniture arrangements indicating the most effective use of the sculpture for enjoyment in the home.

Both large and small scaled sculptures are in this most recent Hardy showing. Smaller sculptures include fox heads done in copper, a small horned toad, bird studies and bison. A larger version of the bison theme is done in steel on silver leaf platform. A handsome metal screen, turquoise banded, features a giraffe motif. A number of pieces are birds poised on pedestals rather than being shown in flight. Drawings augment the showing.

A brief 1964 item mentions a showing of a color film of Hardy creating Flight of Birds. I imagine that film would be an interesting period piece if it still exists somewhere.

If you're curious about what the rest of the mall used to look like (before it was renovated & enclosed around 1991), check out these photo-filled posts at MidCentury Modern League, Malls of America, and Vintage Portland.

I grew up in westside suburbia so we didn't go to Lloyd Center very often. Mostly I remember being cold there because it was an open-air mall in the Pacific Northwest. I still kind of looked forward to going there though, because it had what I was convinced was the world's greatest candy and nut store. Childhood memories about candy stores are notoriously unreliable, but I recall window displays overflowing with red and green pistachios, which were especially tantalizing because mom wouldn't buy them due to the artificial colors. Once I talked mom into getting some old fashioned rock candy, because it looked cool, and she'd talked about having it when she was little, but I didn't care for it. Another time I ended up with a bag of hot salted pine nuts (and I'm kind of amazed they had pine nuts back then, in retrospect), and I didn't really care for those either. Come to think of it I'm not really sure why I thought it was the world's awesomest candy store, because I can't think of a single thing I got there that I have fond memories of now. I'm sure it must have been visually stunning, though. If there are any vintage photos of the store out there, I probably don't want to see them and realize how ordinary it actually was.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Black Hole No. 4

In today's thrilling adventure, we're off to inner SE Portland to look for Black Hole No. 4, which the Smithsonian art survey says is at the Plaid Pantry convenience store at SE 20th & Ankeny. Seriously. I went there and took the above photos; it's just that I don't know what the actual art is supposed to look like, so I don't know whether this is it, or whether it's missing and this is just the pedestal it used to be on. The survey describes it as:

  Hess, Robert, sculptor.
  Sculpture: bronze(?); 
  Base: concrete.
  Sculpture: approx. 20 x 25 x 25 in.; 
  Base: approx. H. 32 in. x Diam. 14 in.; 
  Pedestal: approx. Circum. 50 in.
  Surveyed 1993 November. Treatment urgent.

...which sort of suggests we're maybe just looking at the pedestal here. Sigh. The sculptor is apparently a professor emeritus at Willamette University in Salem, and photos from a Portland gallery representing him suggest that the missing sculpture was probably kind of cool. The only mention of it I've found in the Oregonian database is a brief community calendar item, from June 1985, stating the next meeting of the local neighborhood association would "Discuss a new crime prevention committee, goals for the community development plan, plans for the Buckman Flea Festival, and art for a Plaid Pantry store at Southeast 20th Avenue and East Burnside Street.". So that's all I really know. I did find a 1982 article about the same neighborhood association teaming up with Plaid Pantry to create a mural (which still exists) on another store at 12th & Morrison. So they'd worked together before Black Hole No. 4

If I was truly dedicated to this blogging thing, this would be the point where I'd start making phone calls and doing legwork and trying to figure out where the art went. Except that I hate making phone calls, and really I think this is a job for someone who lives a little closer and has more of a stake in the outcome. Is it in storage now, maybe in a vast warehouse like the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Or maybe it sits forgotten in a neighborhood volunteer's attic, and we won't see it again until it pops up on Antiques Road Show? Or maybe meth-crazed metal thieves stole it? Or professional art thieves, perhaps in the employ of an anonymous Swiss collector? Who knows?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Silver Dawn

I may have mentioned once or twice that I'm rather fond of The Dreamer, the shiny bronze whatzit in Pettygrove Park. I recently found out it has a silvery sibling in NW Portland's Wallace Park, so obviously I had to go check it out. Silver Dawn is at the NE corner of the park, near the fenced off-leash dog area. The blurb from its RACC page is more artist bio than description:

“Silver Dawn” is an excellent example of the large biomorphic abstract sculptures that Manuel Izquierdo was known for. Izquierdo, a central figure in the mid-century Portland art scene, was born in Spain and came to Portland as a refugee who fled after the Spanish Civil War. He studied at the Museum Art School (now PNCA) and taught there for 46 years after graduating.

Silver Dawn makes a cameo in a blog post about the author's ongoing project to track down Izquierdo sculptures around the city. It mentions that Silver Dawn had once been in the middle of the off-leash area, and had also received dents and dings over the years, possibly thanks to balls from the nearby baseball/softball field.

The June 28th, 1980 Oregonian had a photo of Silver Dawn being installed, and the July 22nd paper mentioned it had just been dedicated as part of a repair and improvement effort at Wallace Park: "A sea-form sculpture by Manuel Izquierdo, selected in a national competition coordinated by the Northwest District Association, was dedicated during a neighborhood potluck." Silver Dawn was mentioned in passing in a 1982 article; this being the era before the internet and publicly accessible databases, the then-Metropolitan Arts Commission decided to put together a book cataloging the city's public art, fountains, murals and so forth, and they asked the public for suggestions to try to make the book as complete as possible. Which suggests they themselves didn't already have a master list to work from. Now, thirty-odd years later, they do at least have a public database of things they administer; works belonging to other government agencies or private owners are generally not listed, though. The Smithsonian art database is a bit more comprehensive, but isn't updated on an ongoing basis, so anything new in the last few years won't be listed. Still, the combination of these various sources is enough to keep this humble blog humming along, so I can't complain too much.

Incidentally, to go off on a mostly-unrelated tangent, I know exactly where I was on July 22nd, 1980. It was a hot day, and we were at our suburban neighborhood swimming pool. All of a sudden, people looked up and noticed a big grey mushroom cloud in the sky: Mt. St. Helens was erupting again. The famous destructive eruption had occurred back on May 18th, but the July eruption came on a clear sunny day and I think it may have been the only eruption I actually witnessed (at least until the volcano woke up again in 2004.) I even got out the family Kodamatic instant camera and took at least one photo of it, which I think I still have around somewhere. (If I ever find it again, I'll probably scan it and post it here.) The eruption was naturally the big lead story in the next day's paper.