My point is to show the qualities of Portland’s public artwork.

1. There’s a lot of public artwork. And it’s all over the place.

2. Though most of our public artwork gets inaugurated with a huzzah, much is quickly forgotten. Some of it vanishes (the “Columbia” figures which matched the doorways of the Pioneer Courthouse Post Office (UPDATE 2007 – they’re are replaced on site!), the large multimedia piece which dominated the third floor of the Central Library prior to remodel).

3. Much of our public art has been acquired by corporate or governmental “welfare for the arts” programs. Some pieces clearly were bought to promote a political or aesthetic agenda.

5. On reflection, much of this art turns out to be crap: some is curious, some is incomprehensible, some is evocative, provocative, or tells a story. Some bridges the gap between art and decoration (Portlandia), some is wild seed flying (graffiti tunnel), some is profound and challenging (Coe’s Lincoln in the Park Blocks – our great treasure). But as for the crap we’ve paid for it and often the work is heavy and public and regardless of its quality some folks would never dispose of anything. So it persists. Sometimes for decades. Then a new visitor arrives and says, “what the hell is that!” And you, as an ambassador of this great city, have some explaining to do. Start with 190 ton piece of crap in front of the Standard Insurance Building.

6. Discussion is useful, worthwhile, and progresses toward a further understanding of the subject. Use this forum. It is ours together.

Stay tuned, come back every day, blogroll or whatever it is which alerts you. You’re going to get the grand tour.

And yeah, I’ll get to Portlandia eventually.

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