Valerie Otani’s Folly Bollards, installed in 1998, are twenty bronze busts of harlequin-type characters from literature and story-telling from around the world. Two sets of ten are set on waist-high posts on either side of SW Main Street, between Broadway and Park Avenue, the plaza area between the Center for the Performing Arts and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

The bronze is a dark mixture, so details are not particularly visible. And they’re small – which increases their invisibility, especially in the evening. Together, in these photos, they’re charming.

I bet you’ve walked by these a dozen times and not noticed them. This sums up the purpose of this blog. Art is all around us.

RACC takes care of them. Various bureaus of the City paid for them. And they’re dedicated to Karen Whitman, former director of Pioneer Courthouse Square, founder of ArtQuake and the Association for Portland Progress (which went sour under the leadership of Kim Kimbrough, exiled to Pensicola), and current board member of the Portland Schools Foundation, Portland Parks Foundation and the Oregon Sports Authority.

Topping the bollards are busts of Taro Kaja – Japan, Jester – Europe, Nasreddin – Middle East, Anansi – African-Caribbean, Sidha Karya – Bali, Nutamat (more commonly known as Noohlmahl) – Kwakuital, Mongwi Kovem – Hopi, Harlequin – Italy, Monkey King – China

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