Friday, April 11, 2014

Untitled, Macleay Park

NW Portland's Macleay Park is one of my favorite places in town, and I've never really done it justice here. An early blog post only covered one obscure corner of the park. I've also posted a boring video of a creek in the park, and a photo of a local slug. I've also done a post about the Thurman St. Bridge, which stretches over the park's lower entrance in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately this isn't a proper post about the place either; you might have noticed I've been doing a sort of public art thing lately, and Macleay Park is home to today's stop on this ongoing tour. The lower entrance to the park includes a meadow and group picnic area stretching out beneath the Thurman St. Bridge, and the popular hiking trail along Balch Creek begins at the far end of the meadow. In the middle of the meadow is an incongruous trio of bright red abstract sculptures, collectively known as Untitled. Their RACC page gives the rest of the story:

Three geometric abstract steel sculptures are placed in a raised landscaped area in and located directly south of the Thurman Street Bridge. In siting the work, the artist wanted the sculptures to respond both to the surrounding greenspace (thus, the bright red color) and to the broad horizontal expanse of the Thurman Street bridge (thus, the vertical nature of the sculptures). At the time the pieces were installed, Vern Luce lived near Lower MacLeay Park and selected the site both for its visual beauty and its proximity to his home.

The date on it says 1983, but the design was originally selected in 1979, and funded with a chunk of federal CETA money, along with Silver Dawn in Wallace Park, and the untitled ring whatzit in Couch Park. I've actually added a blog tag for CETA-funded art; other than Silver Dawn most of it isn't that great or memorable, and it's by people you've never heard of, and it's all in the same groovy chunky 70s style. It's not trying to communicate an environmental message, or define a neighborhood identity, or serve as a local landmark, or harmonize with its surroundings or anything like that. It just sort of exists, period, plunked down wherever the movers thought was easiest and left to confuse future generations. Or, more likely, be ignored by future generations, and marked as territory by their dogs.

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