Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beverly Cleary Fountain & Sculpture Garden

In NE Portland's Grant Park, there's a small plaza with trio of statues of characters from Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, which were set in the surrounding neighborhood. In the summer months there's also a small fountain here, I guess for kids to play in; it wasn't running when I stopped by, but someone posted a YouTube video of it taken last summer. The whole assemblage was created by Lee Hunt, who also created the Human Comedy terra-cotta faces on a building at 3rd & Yamhill downtown.

I admit I never read any of the Ramona books as a kid, and it's a bit late to do so now, but I understand they're a fond childhood memory for a lot of people. So I can't speak to what scene from which book this is, or whether the characters look the way the books describe them.

The problem here (which is one I've discussed before) is that statues of kids are always creepy. Or at least they always look creepy in photos. I think it might be the facial expressions; Statues of presidents, generals, prominent local businessmen, etc., can pose their subjects gazing nobly into the middle distance, boldly leading us into the future or something. With kids you can't really do that, so they're often pictured laughing and smiling, and that doesn't translate into bronze as well. Whatever the cause, statues of kids always seem to evoke the "uncanny valley" effect, the same reason creepy clowns and ventriloquist dummies are so unsettling. I swear they didn't look this creepy in person, maybe because you can see they're child-sized and nonthreatening and not at all Chucky-like. Or at least not Chucky-like during daytime. At night it's anyone's guess.

No comments :