Pressure is mounting to reconsider Brian Goldbloom of Amboy, Washington’s contribution to Chinese culture in Portland – his newly mounted Chinese Dragon.

See “Chinese” Dragons – bad job all around from 12.5.2006.

Portland Public Art(Perhaps it has another name, but Chinese Dragon seems better to me – especially if the emphasis is on Chinese. Perhaps it is a comment on Magritte’s, or perhaps on Foucault’s, This is Not a Pipe.)

Matt Davis of the Mercury tries art crit (gee it is the Mercury) Chasing the Dragon Arts Council May Remove “Offensive” Sculpture.

Chinese DragonOf course, missing is the basic irony, for thirty years 4th and NW Davis has been far more widely known as great spot to score heroin – not decent Chinese food.

According to Davis, Goldbloom “pitched it as a piece that reflects the diversity of the area.” Aha right! The old Chinese slang “chasing the dragon” rears its dangerous head.

Businesses are predominantly Caucasian owned and operated. Few if any Chinese people live in the area. Attempts to revive Chinese tourist businesses flounder. We say “Chinatown” either in historical context or with a smirk.

But tar heroin remains popular, and without the intervention of the Afghani Taliban, flows effortlessly through our well-guarded ports. Hooper Detox remains packed, as do public and private heroin treatment centers, jails, prisons, hospitals and cemeteries.

Too bad Davis couldn’t tie his art crit to his cop beat, with The Naming Game Cops Name and Shame Downtown Drug Dealers. Missed opportunity to be smarmy.

Skid Row in Portland has been a vice district for over a century, and both Chinese and Caucasian businesses have profited mightily from cheap rent and notoriety. We wouldn’t want to change a thing – but the coincidence causes and interesting aesthetic question: does the meaning of artwork exist outside of it’s context?

Read – Chasing the Dragon: Into the Heart of the Golden Triangle, by Christopher Cox, based on a longish interview with Khun Sa, warlord of poppy fields in Burma.

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