Monday, June 16, 2014


The next stop on our ongoing public art tour is Whirlymajig, a tall sorta-windmill structure outside the Charles Jordan Community Center in North Portland's University Park. The brief RACC description doesn't tell us a lot:

Sculpture is a metaphor for the mind and body developing activities that take place a University Park Community Center. Also it is meant to become a landmark for the center being the figurative (almost literal) center of the neighborhood.
The city's page for the community center elaborates a bit:
A wind-driven kinetic sculpture by Jerry Mayer was installed in front of the center on August 31, 1999. Mayer worked closely with the North Portland community to develop Whirlymajig, an altered water pump windmill with a 5-ft diameter fan wheel atop a 30-ft steel flagpole. Driven by the wind through a system of gears, drive shafts, axels, and drive chains, the sculpture's tail section consists of variously moving aluminum cutouts of arms and legs performing physically and mentally challenging tasks.

Unfortunately the wind wasn't cooperating when I stopped by, and I figured nobody would be interested in a video clip of it just sitting there doing nothing.

Jerry Mayer, the artist behind Whirlymajig, also created Cobbletale, the little cobblestone-and-streetcar-track hill on the Portland State campus. The two things look nothing alike, and I only know they're by the same artist because I usually go back and check to see if I've already covered anything else of theirs. There aren't that many local artists who are pre-approved to work on RACC public art projects, so you tend to encounter the same names a lot. Although strictly speaking I don't even know Whirlymajig and Cobbletale are by the same guy; they could be by two local artists with the same name, and as I said the two sculptures look nothing alike. This "two artists" theory seems kind of unlikely, but given the limited information I have on hand, I can't totally rule it out.

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