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.

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