February 2006

If you haven’t taken our survey, you still have time. I’ll continue the poll until 100 people have shared their ideas and opinions about a suitable statue for Portland.

For this poll, I’m asking you to share NAMES of Portland people who are well deserving of our honor and memory.

Readers of this blog have already made several excellent suggestions!

How about Jane Powell, first discovered on the Edgar Bergen radio show at age 14?

Or Greg Sage, our own Alien Boy? Was this 10 29 79 at the Earth Tavern?

Mr. Saturday Night himself, Playboy Buddy Rose?

Or Tough Tony Bourne? With Lonnie Mayne took out Mr. Fuji & Haru Sasaki TWICE for the NW Tag Team Title in 1970. Remember?

Doctor, Anarchist and community leader Marie Equi? You don’t know Marie Equi? Click newbie, click!

The dame of Thurman Street, Ursula LeGuin?

Young Marxist + Haute Couture architype Louise Bryant?

Or perhaps someone we should remember lest we every forget? How about Ben Canada?

Former Mayor Frank Ivancie?

Racist and murderer Ken Mieske?

Or Number 1 draft pick “Two For” LaRue Martin?

Imagine a new sculpture recognizing a Portlander whose memory is important today and will be important tomorrow – who should it be? Pick as many as you like – or even add your own!

Late troubadour Elliot Smith?

Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling?

Gourmand & glutton James Beard?

Add your own! Show the will and we will find the way. Click here to take survey

Insulated. Camelot. Silver spoon. Private. Cloistered. Reed is at best a complicated institution for outsiders to comprehend. Most students come from out of state and the campus ethos keeps them on campus, whether by Humanities 110 or simply peer pressure to sit down and keep drinking.

There is some public art on campus, well-meaning donations mostly. Nice set of prints, including Red Grooms and Jose Ortega next to the Commons.

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, funded by a gift from Sue and Edward Cooley (Precision Castparts + Hillsboro Aviation, died in late 2001) and Betty and John Gray (developed Salishan in 1962) is a single room with a high ceiling, embedded in the Reed library. This month it hosts a selection of contemporary art from the Michael Ovitz Family Art Collection.

Portland Tribune goes on and on. Jeff Jahn has a tumble of words and ideas about this show over at PORT.

What else is on campus? (Now this is a veer from our stated purpose of chronicling public art – this is a private school + private art. So there. Once in a while we walkabout.)

Big lunk of a Lee Kelly off the East parking lot, a Balder before the art department. I imagine some poor Martian anthropologist trying to puzzle these things out in 1700 years. Why? Why did they venerate the piles of iron?

Ben Linder, not a Reedie except in spirit, is memorialized in a stairwell in Gray Hall. Murdered while working as an engineer on a hydroelectric dam in war-torn Nicaragua in 1987 by the CIA-funded Contras, in another world Linder’s life would be celebrated, fablized to children, and a model for any political youth.

Linder went to Adams High School in Portland. His father, David Linder, died in 1999. His mother, Elisabeth Linder, sister and brother live in Portland.

Green Empowerment was organized to carry on the work of Ben Linder.

Ben’s Legacy, by Bill Donohue of The Oregonian, 1992.

His headstone, in Matagalpa.

The Death of Ben Linder by Joan Kruckewitt is worth reading.

Back to the art. There’s a great big Michael Brophy stump landscape in the Kaul Auditorium, really stunning, it swallows up a great deal of light and attention in the room.

There’s a fierce intelligence here on campus, coupled a twisted humor / rancor of affluence which recognizes it’s triviality. Clearly the best and bright have been culled from the herd for an exceptional educational experience.

Adjoining the mailroom, tucked away behind old furniture, student Dustin Fremont memorialized Thích Quảng Ðức with an inkpad and his fingertips in 2004. Good job.

There might be healing properties in general and generous application of irony. Shake your fist. Go right ahead.

This big hunk of bronze has been here quite a while. No idea who the artist is. I can remember seeing Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsburg sitting a few yards from here, surrounded by a few thousand frolickers + adherents in 1967. Summer of Love, baby.

Just a list tonight, it’s cold out here in the darkness.

This little thing peeks out of the bushes in front of Baird. No tag, no nothing. I bet a dollar it’s a Arts & Crafts Society project a beloved Dean or Director made while in mid-life crisis. Prove me wrong. About two and a half feet high, bronze, late 1970’s by the style. Hmm. A cubist mother pushing a futurist baby stroller.

This astonishingly ugly half head sits in front of the Med Research building, on a marble dias with various icons etched into it, as if the thing were hurtling through space on an apology run to the gods, like Voyager’s gold record. It’s like a booby prize, probably selected by a committee of department heads as a perk for putting up with construction delays.

Across a small unused plaza is a long marble bench with Daniel Boorstin quippy qoute, “The obstacle to discovery is the illusion of knowledge.” Some sort of science no-mindfulness. More mid-life crisis, I bet. Students in scrubs are groggy, sucking down smokes, blinking at a forgotten sun.

I think I saw this is a casino lobby in Nevada a few years ago. The glass case is new. The Spirit of Healing has graced the BICC lobby since Peter Kohler hauled it home.

No idea who the artist is. Anyone?

Jack Van Koten, a Shriner and sculptor from Indiana made this guardian of the Portland Shriners Hospital, a 40-bed pediatric orthopaedic hospital providing comprehensive orthopaedic care to children at no charge.

Laugh if you want at the simplicity, but try to think of a better place for these duffers to be stacking their chips.

Antoinette Hatfield ran a prim and proper gallery downtown in the 1990s, I can’t put my finger on when she closed. Anyway, this bust of the archangel of OHSU welcomes visitors to an underused entrance of OHSU’s main hospital. Better is a bronze frieze + pictorial history of Hatfield in the main lobby.

He’s one of those well-cared for Washington men who looks better the older he gets. This bust looks like it was made from photos of him during the Nixon administration.

The Senator had a couple of bad falls last year and hasn’t had much of a public profile recently. At 83 years, and most of those in public, he’s on the verge of deification. Possibly the most popular Oregonian of all time, next to Ralph Miller and Mel Blanc.

There’s an old rusty Lee Kelly in front of the nursing school, and another shiny one in front of the VA. Both hidious. There’s a weird collection of nurse-dolls in the stairwell of the new nursing school. There is a surreal sculpture garden for kids to play in in the center of Doernbecher. That’s about it.

Finally, a simple plaque on a small boulder on a random walkway, “In the memory of those men and women who have advanced medical education and research through the bequest of their bodies to the School of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University.

I’m not strongly motivated to say much about Carl Morris or his work. Rep’ed in Portland by Laura Russo, prolific, collected, long-lived, generous, abstract painter. You can look up his bio if you like.

There are four matching paintings, which look like they were all made on the same day, just filling space in the OHSU auditorium. My guess is Jean and Howard Vollum donated these to OHSU back in the 1970’s. Sensing an ultimate gift in the tens of millions, the development department swallowed the insurance costs and parked these artworks pending the estate settlement.

The paintings are large and fresh looking, dark and ominous, uninviting and looming. Definitely not something you could hang in a home or in a room where particular people would need to be in direct contact with them. Public hallways, lobbies, entrances. Very serious stuff, but absent sufficient content to be useful. Just unpleasant.

When the Vollum Institute was designed, more Morris’ were available from the Vollum collection. In a quick run through the lobbies and the Edward Herbert room on the 11th floor (fantastic view) I counted eight. There are probably more tucked away in offices. Student & staff are oblivious to them, swallowed in their niche world of test tubes.

If you have a curious mind (why else would you be reading this blog?) check out the Herbert Memorial lecture series: An Rb/E2F/DP Complex and Chromatin Remodeling Antagonize a Ras Pathway During C. elegans Vulva Development, presented by Robert Horvitz of MIT, who shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Sydney Brenner and John Sulston. March 13, 2006 at 12:00 PM in Room M1441 – better write that down, you won’t see it in your local papers.

Hilda Morris, Carl’s better half and a fine and curious teacher in her own right, will be remembered at the PAM.org in March with a solo show.

From the show description: Hilda Morris (1911 – 1991) was at the center of the Northwest’s avant-garde for much of her career, producing a large body of innovative, influential bronze sculpture. Now, in this definitive survey exhibition of more than 50 of her sculptures, drawings, and paintings are on view.

Take a break from OHSU.

Mark Rothko, born in Latvia, grew up in Portland, attended Yale briefly, painted like hell, suicided in NYC in 1970. The artwork he made in his last decade or so is considered rare and divine. His son Christopher has released his father’s The Artist’s Reality, from Yale U. Lost in storage for 30 years, it offers a glimpse of genius.

From the publisher,

“One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Mark Rothko (1903–1970) created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting over the course of his career. Rothko also wrote a number of essays and critical reviews during his lifetime, adding his thoughtful, intelligent, and opinionated voice to the debates of the contemporary art world. Although the artist never published a book of his varied and complex views, his heirs indicate that he occasionally spoke of the existence of such a manuscript to friends and colleagues. Stored in a New York City warehouse since the artist’s death more than thirty years ago, this extraordinary manuscript, titled The Artist’s Reality, is now being published for the first time.

Probably written around 1940–41, this revelatory book discusses Rothko’s ideas on the modern art world, art history, myth, beauty, the challenges of being an artist in society, the true nature of “American art,” and much more. The Artist’s Reality also includes an introduction by Christopher Rothko, the artist’s son, who describes the discovery of the manuscript and the complicated and fascinating process of bringing the manuscript to publication. The introduction is illustrated with a small selection of relevant examples of the artist’s own work as well as with reproductions of pages from the actual manuscript.

The Artist’s Reality will be a classic text for years to come, offering insight into both the work and the artistic philosophies of this great painter.”

Tour of Rothko works at the NGA

Many mysteries and indignities in Rothko’s life.

From The Guardian 2002 – Feeding Fury, Rothko was an unknown when he won a plum commission to provide paintings for New York’s swankiest restaurant. So why did he pull out and give them to the Tate?

Seagram Murals – now permanently at the Tate Gallery in London.

Take the virtual tour of the Rothko Chapel.

Rothko’s Legacy, from the NewsHour w/ Jim Lehrer, interview with Dore Ashton. You can listen / watch segment.

Oregon Health Sciences University is the state’s largest hospital and only medical school. Perched on top of Marquam Hill (the fabled result of a whiskey-driven land-deal), it’s packed with researchers and the poor folks they torment, trauma hospital, two children’s hospitals (Shriners and Dornbecher), a VA Hospital, the Casey Eye Institute, a nursing school, a dental school, and not enough parking. Billions in construction and payroll over the decades and yet the halls are largely empty of cultural and commentary.

Here’s more of what I found.

By Barbara Gilson, a Portland photog, untitled, of the Portland Rose Festival. In dreary grays, it hangs in a dreary hospital hallway, a large gelatin print, very hard to look at except for up close.

The poobah deans + directors had their portraits made and hang them in and outside the main hospital auditorium (where grand rounds are held). The signature is D. Hine and the portraits look like they were all made at the same time, but the frames for the older members, some of whom passed on decades ago, are older, relative to their age. About twelve of them. Uninteresting outside of trivia. Can’t find D. Hine.

By Mary Josephson, All Your Base Belong To Us, in a waiting area in the hospital. Liberal Arts Primitive, with an extremely unfortunate title. Dreck.

George Johanson, Portland gallery stalwart; this abstract is probably from the 1970’s, probably a donation to the medical school, & hangs in a dark lobby. Hans Hoffman sans genius. No tag.

Next – Carl Morris.

Next Page »