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.

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