November 2005

George Fite Waters studied sculpture under Auguste Rodin in Paris. Portland’s The President is his most impressive, surviving, public artwork.

Cast from wax in bronze probably in 1924 or 1925 at the C. Valsuani foundry, bought from Waters in Paris, shipped in 1926 and donated to Portland in 1928 by psychatrist and progressive booster Henry Waldo Coe and unveiled in 1928, this looming bronze figure has been destination of a thousand rendevouz.

(Coe also made gifts of the Joan of Arc at 29th and Glisan, the Roosevelt in from of the Portland Art Museum, and the George Washington on NE Sandy Blvd – all great examples of post-war euro expat sculpture, and great treasures of Portland.)

A strange caveat to the deal. Waters sold The President , an original, with an agreement it may never be duplicated.

Lincoln High School students traditionally have cared for the sculpture. There’s a scale duplicate in white plaster on a little wheeled pedestal at Lincoln. Go piracy!

Waters made a living translating – best known perhaps is Italian Renaissance Architecture by Georges Gromort, pub. in 1922, and selling etchings.

From the NY Times – August 1923

George Fite-Waters, originally an American who studied here and later abroad, has received gratifying attention from the French critics. He is exhibiting in the Salon se Artists Francaises several busts in bronze. In the opinion of the Revue du Vral et du Beau his technique is strong and vibratory, full of emotion and character. The portraits of Fernand Anseau, tenor of the Opera, and of the small boy Jack Wittmore are expressive and living. Mlle. X, is modeled with supple charm and Eliner is an exquisite bas-relief of a little girl in profile, out of doors, near some iris. The varied ways he expresses himself proves with what sensitiveness Fite-Waters adapts technique to subject.

He has the great good fortune of being the last pupil of Rodin. His work is much inspired by the manner of the master. After the war he worked in London and exhibited there with many of the best societies. He traveled for a year in Italy and then returned to Paris.

Fite-Waters’s great interest is portraiture. Here he excels. Not only does he reproduce the exterior forms, but he translates personalities. Among his portraits of celebrities are those of the composer Giacomo Puccini, James K. Hackett, the American actor, playing Shakespeare in Paris, Elsie Janis, Sacha Guitry, Mme. Melba and the Russian tenor, Wladimir Rosing.

From the NY Times – Feb. 1927


Art Critics and Reporters See Heroic Figure by Waters for Portland, Ore.

Paris – Feb. 12 (1927) – Art critics and members of the press at a private gathering held in the foundry had an opportunity to view the statue of Abraham Lincoln, which will be unveiled in Portland, Ore., in April.

A gift to that city by Dr. Henry Waldo Coe, the statue is the work of an American sculpture, George Fite Waters, who is already well known for his portrait busts, which include the heads of President Cosgrave of Ireland and other notables. He is a native of San Francisco and his parents are from Maryland.

The statue is monumental in proportions, ten feet high, showing Lincoln in the familiar frock coat and characteristic attitude, with head inclined and one leg well forward, giving an impression of great energy and restrained power. The cast in bronze at the famous foundry of Claude Valsuani, weighs nearly on ton.

Mr. Waters made every effort to achieve historic accuracy as well as artistic perfection and made much painstaking research of contemporary documents. He used two death masks for models. The coat, which dates from the period, obtained in Washington D.C., was worn as a sitting by a young English accountant in Paris, who by a curious coincidence possesses the identical body measurements of Abraham Lincoln.


Interesting – Waters’ other surviving public sculpture is of John Brown, which stands guard at the John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie, Kansas. Where the hell is that?


Mitch takes us all on a excellent tour of downtown Portland. Be patient. He took pictures and they take time to download regardless of your bandwidth. (If you’re considering vacationing in Portland, this page could save you serious money. Look at this and then go to Vancouver BC to get something to eat.)

The backstage troupers of Oregon’s favorite company town – Ashland – get an inside look by the NY Times.

The logistics of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – invisible as the strings which hoist Ariel – would make a fantastic subject for a documentary film.

NY Times – “We’re like a touring theater that doesn’t go anywhere, and we’re touring 11 shows at once,” said Michael Maag, the festival’s master electrician.

Ahh details, we love the inside details.

Walt Curtis showed me her name, Hazel Hall, under the table at Satyricon, a literary dope deal, he shrugged and sniffed and riffed off about “Oregon’s Emily Dickinson,” waving his arms mad street professor style.

That was a strong scene of lively active mad poets, churning out real stuff and bringing it downtown. The folks would come out too. College students and slumming intellectuals drinking beers and taking notes. Doug Spangle would MC if Walt couldn’t find his way, making a list and welcoming all with smiles and a hardy hi ho. Bad George and Elizabeth Bolton and Don Chambers – all now passed on, Dan Raphael, Liz Woody, Chris Chester, Philip Minthorn, Leanne Grabel, Sandra Williams, Ed Edmo, Bill Johnson, David Elsey, Harold Johnson, all these Portland Poets.

Light Sleep by Hazel Hall

Women who sing themselves to sleep
Lie with their hands at rest,
Locked over them night-long as though to keep
Music against their breast.

They who have feared the night and lain
Mumbling themselves to peace
Sleep a light sleep lest they forget the strain
That brings them their release.

They dream, who hold beneath the hand
A crumpled shape of song,
Of trembling sound they do not understand,
Yet love the whole night long.

Women who sing themselves to sleep
Must lie in fear till day,
Clasping an amulet of words to keep
The leaning dark away.

Hazel was definitely one of the Outsiders – though not by choice. Born in 1864, an young invalid, she spent her days on the second floor of her family’s home in NW Portland, writing letters to friends real and imagined and gazing out her window.

See Catherine Daly’s Blog for reviews of several Hall texts.

Susan Mach, in 1990 wrote Monograms, a short play based on Hall and her sister Ruth.

The Oregon Book Awards, a clubby backslapping black tie affair, has recently renamed their prime poetry award from the “Hazel Hall Award” to the “Williams Stafford and Hazel Hall Award” merging Hall with a inferior poet. Yuch. They have some event coming up next week but I forget where and when. No amount of direct mail will improve my memory.

Devotes cadged the state to recognize her with the small and tidy Hazel Hall Garden, adjacent to her home, on NW 22nd between Burnside and Everett. Visit and look up. You’ll see the trees Hazel watched through her window.

The editors at the New York Times may have started a imperial war and floundered a presidency in recent months, but they’ve pegged Portland, Oregon about right for a November visit.

See Going To: Portland, Oregon from November 5, 2005.

Youth, dissatisfied, search for the new, the wild, the mission of their generation. School holds the ideals of the prior generation, simply an institution designed to enfeeble your mind and choices. Family is discarded out of hand. The media, corrupt and facile, is something to be mocked. Church – no. Escaping enslavement is the motion of the moment. How far can I get before they catch me – is the only concern.

But the search for colleagues continues, for lovers of the future need each other more than water and air. They need confirmation, they need affection, they need shelter.

The map of the Portland’s underground has traditionally appeared on telephone poles. Stapled into the wood, some are artwork themselves, mixed with lost cats and lonely hearts. Once in a great while a Mike King appears, either Mike himself or another genius kid with a midnight obsession at Kinko’s.

Actually, when Kinko’s started using a better accounting technology, it wiped out a whole art form, xerox art, which was almost exclusively practiced by skinny kids after midnight with a wink and a nod in this chain.

King’s superlative work – like Art Chantry in Seattle – shaped performance rock in Portland for a dozen years or longer.

(Yeah this is from a show in Cincy but it’s got a rocket and it’s Built To Spill).

Merchants along the avenue hate this junk, sneak out occasionally and rip them down. The posters lay onto the poles in thick blankets, often 3 4 5 inches thick, date over date, sealed together with rainwater, a wadded coat of events.

Occasionally PGE or whatever it is now will call the city + local TV news and complain. In turn the Mayor will issue a press release and preppy newsgirls with claim the staples are slowly chopping down the poles, a reducto absurdum claim trotted as time filler between mattress commercials. The true terror is when some juvenile terrorist lights one on fire – that’s no good for anyone.

Here’s an inside, undercover look. The staples themselves make a wild, random pattern, an archeology of pop experience.

But the value of these posters far outweigh the nuisance. Any kid can make a poster, make an invitation to connect, promote their show or their sexiness. For just pennies any kid can be someone.

Oh everyone hates pledge week, but it’s a great opportunity to explore the airwaves, give Howard Stern another listen, or catch up on drivetime commercial swill. Who needs purity?

But the fact is plain, if you want community public radio you must contribute.

Again, it’s in your best interest – both short term and long term. And it is public art – D’mae Roberts’ plays, Eva Lake’s interviews, and many other fine local products.

And did you know? The Katrina Relief Act of 2005 allows up to 100% income deduction on all charitable giving (including corporate giving)!

KOPB sucks most of the $$ available in this community – for 1/2 an hour of Oregon Considered + April Baer (see pic). Great program but in 2004 OPB raised almost $18 million dollars (TV & radio) and puts only pennies into local programming.

Instead, consider FIVE different public community radio stations you should consider for an end of the year contribution.

KBOO FM 90.7 – Jack Danger’s “Queer Queer World” is killer, so tune in and get smart. Tom Wendt, Joe Uris, Barbara LaMorticella, all beats and bring the good stuff. KBOO follows the KRAB format, playing what’s not available elsewhere. Essential.

KBOO FM 90.7
20 SE 8th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214

KMHD FM 89.1 – cool jazz is boring but sure a lot better than cool country. This is a blue state, not a red state, so make it keep happening and contribute.

KMHD FM 89.1
26000 SE Stark Street
Gresham, OR 97030

KBPS FM 89.9 – all classical on the FM band – very adult and civilized. In the background of Portland’s retail cognoscenti, tinkling Chopin or Schubert.

KBPS FM 89.9
515 NE 15th Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

But on the Benson High School kids on KBPS AM go live with their Dad’s record collection, and bunch of jackass 80’s new wave crap. But kids are cool. Call ’em up, say you’re the FCC and the phones are tapped. And send them a check to buy some new music & mikes.

KBPS 1490 AM
Benson Polytechnic High School
546 NE 12th Avenue
Portland, OR 97323

KPSU 1490 AM – is Portland State’s “college radio” station, sharing the bandwidth at night with KBPS AM. Just as chaotic, just as wild. be sure to put a note in with the check to only support KPSU or you could end up buying some jock’s knee pads.

KPSU 1490 AM
P.O. Box 751-SD
Portland, OR 97207

The arts progressive community is rife with a simple hypocrisy. They don’t support the arts organizations in their community with cash donations.

They just don’t. Rationalizations abound. “Foundations should take care of this!” “What about a grant from RACC?” “I don’t have any money!”

All wrong. It’s our responsibility to support the causes and issues we believe in. This is the first of a series of nonprofit organizations, all laudable, credible, accountable organizations with great missions, each which supports public artwork in Portland, Oregon.
I hope you look these over, and select a few, write some checks and make some art happen in an entirely new way – as a patron of the arts.

I LOVE the idea of SCRAP. I don’t know anyone who works there and I’ve never been inside (tho I have been admiring their mural outfront – see above.)

But I appreciate their mission and YOU should consider making a cash donation before the end of the year. Your donation to SCRAP is tax deductible.

Here’s what they do:

SCRAP–The School and Community Reuse Action Project promotes creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community.

SCRAP stocks a store for school teachers only which carries stuff of a hundred sorts all for making artwork. Activities, community-building, workshops, sales, volunteers, all sorts of interesting engagements.

Visit SCRAP at

Send your donation to

3901A N Williams
Portland, OR 97227

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