Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vita Mensae, Living Mind, Life of Thought

Ok, next up on the ongoing public art tour is another stop at OHSU. This time we're looking at Vitae Mensae, Living Mind, Life of Thought, the giant spooky half-head in front of the university's Medical Research Building. This was created circa 1993 by sculptor Larry Kirkland, who also did Capitalism, the stacked-coins fountain outside the Lloyd Center mall. There's a longer post about Vita Mensae at an OHSU history blog; the author wonders whether the Latin name is quite correct, and whether it would have been more appropriate to depict the other half of the head. Which are concerns that I guess a doctor would have about it that I never would have thought of. The post includes a photo of a sign explaining the sculpture, located inside one of the adjacent buildings. Oh, and the old Portland Public Art blog hated it (as usual), calling it "astonishingly ugly" and "a booby prize, probably selected by a committee of department heads as a perk for putting up with construction delays". The rest of the post continues in a similar vein. I used to aspire to that level of invective now and then, not so many years ago; now I'm just happy when I remember I still have a blog and ought to hit publish at least once a month.

1 comment :

John Cooper said...

If a critic is looking for "astonishingly ugly," he or she should be more satisfied with the George Vancouver statue in your last post. The sarcasm and invective are surprising in a blog (not yours) whose About page says "Regardless of quality, art should be cherished."

I'll reserve judgment on this piece until I see it in person, but based on the photos, I'm puzzled by the split head, delighted by the thoughtfully rendered classical and Egyptian engravings on the base, and bemused by the Herbert Hoover quote. So I'm already engaged by the piece, and isn't that a goal of public art?

The materials used for the base remind me of the interior steps of the Central Library. Any idea if it's the same sculptor?