Monday, February 24, 2014

Arcade Ceiling, Justice Center

Arcade Ceiling, Justice Center 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.

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.

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