Sunday, October 01, 2023

Sulawesi, SW 17th & Morrison

Back in February I finally hit "Publish" on a post about Icarus at Kittyhawk, the Lee Kelly art at the Beaverton Central MAX station. That post was stuck in Drafts for ages because I didn't know what it was called, until I finally found that crucial detail on a walking/driving tour map of Kelly art around the Portland area. I said at the time:

In fact the map includes a lamentable number of others that I wasn't aware of and have never visited. Somehow I feel like I have to add them to the ol' TODO list now, although for the life of me I'm not sure why.

...and sure enough, here's a TODO item from that map. This is Sulawesi (2008), on the West Portland Physical Therapy building at SW 17th and Morrison. I actually like this one. It's a reasonable size, and somehow it actually fits with the building it's on (the circa-1958 Annand Building) and looks like it's always been there, despite being about a half-century newer. Usually at this point I would go off on a tangent about the cool midcentury building, but I haven't found any interesting info about it by name or by address. I can tell you the building once housed an office of the Equitable Life of Iowa insurance firm starting in 1958, and they were seemingly hiring new stenographers every few months, year after year, and after that other tenants came and went over time, and I have no historical anecdotes to share about any of them, or the building, or anything really. Which at least makes this an easy post to finish, so there's that, I guess.

I'm glad I checked that walking map again before hitting 'Publish', since I had gotten the name of the art wrong. Sulawesi (the correct name) is an island in Indonesia, the 11th largest island on the planet and home to 20 million people. I almost mistakenly called the art "Surabaya", which is a city on the island of Java, elsewhere in Indonesia. The Surabaya metropolitan area is home to about 10 million people. So that would have been kind of embarrassing. Searching for more info under the correct name comes back with a result for "Sulawesi I" (1997) a similar Kelly sculpture outside a library on the Oregon State University campus. The OSU one is described as "A wall-mounted sculpture with silver leaf with looping and linear forms reminiscent of script." That could be the origin of the name here too, or it's named for resembling the weirdly-shaped island itself, which looks a lot a letter in some unknown alphabet.

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