Matrix II – Charles Kelly
Bought by Dept of Transportation and Tri-Met (when did the hyphen disappear?) for the opening of the Portland Transit Mall, 1977
Sixth Avenue and Oak Street, Portland.

Plus and minus. Pretty simple. There’s a sexual interpretation, but I can dish it or leave it alone.

This stylish sculptural art has been holding this spot on the transit mall, rain or shine, for almost thirty years.

It’s hard to spot because of it’s funky 70s look, it washes out and could be a piece of construction machinery or some leftover debris from a flood or car crash. It’s hard to see on closer inspection, because other surrounding things, people, pigeons, are so much more interesting.

Matrix III, below, is in Salem. I don’t know where Matrix I is, or if it ever was. Charles Kelly seems to have made these and stopped making sculpture. That’s probably for the best.

Somehow I don’t think it was meant to be on a pedestal, now up to about ten feet high. But without the pedestal pedestrians would topple over it – because it’s so invisible.

This was a typically college professor piece at the time, semi-abstract, thick, iron and stone and honest labor put it all together. Probably had some sort of earth-air-fire-water hippy dance-blessing too.

Our contemporary problem, as with Satan’s Scrotum, it this super-importantly-titled thing is protected as “art” and is also virtually indestructible. Vandals, weather, birds, being ignored hasn’t changed it. Kelly’s art could literally be sitting on this Portland streetcorner in a thousand years.

Unless! The earth opens up and swallows it whole. I’ll never give up hope.


Matrix III – Charles Kelly
Gift of Salem Insurance Agents of the Marion-Polk Agents Association
Between Library and City Hall, East Lawn, Salem Civic Center
Corten Steel and Cement

UPDATE 2007 – this sculpture has been placed in storage.

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