Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flows and Eddies

Here are a few photos of Flows and Eddies, the public art scattered around the Smith & Bybee Wetlands. Flows and Eddies is the name for the overall project, which is divided into a few sub-groupings, each of which in turn consists of a few individual sculptures. Two of these groupings are represented in these photos:

Ecology Stones

Forms found in the natural habitat of the lakes are carved in monumental scale basalt boulders, creating a “teaching landscape” that awakens viewers to the rich plant and animal life that surrounds them.

Mussel Shell

A large carved stone based on the fresh water mussels found in the lakes marks the entrance to the canoe launch. The lines of a mussel’s shell mark the years of its life. A second mussel shell paving stone is etched with the dates and cycles of time of important events in the history, prehistory and natural history of the lakes, making note of the ‘deep time’ found in wild places.

Not pictured are Habitat Reefs, Habitat Trees and Seasonal Encampment, mostly because I have no idea where they are. Smith & Bybee Wetlands is a huge place, and the art seems to be scattered a bit randomly all over the park.

Flows and Eddies is a fairly recent addition to the park, only arriving in 2004. Like Drawing on the River beneath the St. Johns Bridge in Cathedral Park, it was actually funded with One Percent for Art money from the still-unopened Wapato Jail. The jail borders a remote corner of Bybee Lake near the old St. Johns Landfill, and as you might imagine it doesn't welcome casual visitors. The then-sheriff figured it was silly to spend the public art money at the jail where nobody would ever see it, so a few outside projects were funded instead, including this one.

If you like these, you might also check out Urban Hydrology on the transit mall at Portland State University. Like Flows and Eddies it's a collection of nature-inspired Fernanda D'Agostino sculptures, but they're based on electron microscope images of diatoms. It's possibly my favorite of the new crop of transit mall art that arrived with the MAX Green Line. For whatever that's worth. If Google results are any indication, I may be the only person on Earth who pays attention to this stuff.

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