Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Exalted Ruler

Here are a few photos of The Exalted Ruler, the big elk statue outside the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. It's by Troutdale sculptor Rip Caswell, and commemorates the local Elks Club's longtime support of the hospital's childrens' eye clinic. Caswell's work has appeared here a couple of times before, namely the goose at the Kings Hill MAX station, and the deeply weird 9/11 memorial on SE Belmont.

Portland Public Art did a post about this elk back in 2006, and an unusually mild post by that site's standards. I assumed it would compare this elk unfavorably with the famous Thompson Elk statue in the downtown Plaza blocks, but it didn't. Then I got to looking at the two side by side, and it struck me that the OHSU elk is actually better than the famous downtown one. Or at least it's more realistic and lifelike, which would seem to be the main criteria for evaluating elk statues. I should note that the local Elks refused to have anything to do with the Thompson Elk, calling it a "monstrosity of art", and I'm starting to think they had a point; it looks a bit like the artist grafted elk antlers onto a small and slender type of deer. I'll just note that Roland Hinton Perry was an East Coast artist, so it's possible he'd never actually seen a real, live elk when he took the job.

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