Peninsula Park is one of Portland’s favorite parks – busy, dynamic, something for everyone.

As with all Portland parks, the Portland Parks and Recreation web site has excellent historical information about the park, lists of amenities, links to a map, photos, etc.

The park has three interesting pieces of artwork. All three are easily overwhelmed by the wonderful sunken rose garden with almost 9000 plantings at the South end of the park. It is one of the two or three places in the western US where if you squint, and use a little imagination, you can be in Paris.

With a lively fountain, which in the summer is filled with free-spirited dogs and children, ornate brickwork, a gazebo for weddings and surrounded by elegant elms, this garden is an excellent destination for lovers of all ages.


Inside the stately red tile community center at the North end of the park are a series of murals of young athletes tumbling and wrestling. I’m uncertain when these were made, perhaps in the 1920s.

Females exercise on one side, males on the other, each in gym togs sans corporate logos and simple, non-descript brown leather shoes, each group acting as signage leading visitors toward separate, symmetrical gymnasiums on either end of the building. Invigorating! Healthy ! Fun!

The building has had some recent remodeling; bathrooms, kitchen, but largely remains as it has always been.

I have a running fear some Adidas-based marketing moron will see these pieces of art and neighborhood history and offer with a large check to “update these murals.”

Stay away! Go back to whatever magazine you germinated from!

Seattle-based sculptor / dabbler / arts consultant Jerry Allen sold his Disk #4 to Portland Parks and Recreation in the 1970s, a bronze located in a quiet corner of Peninsula Park. It is a fair replica of Chuck Kibby’s Uroboros, in stone, located at Westmoreland Park. There may be more in storage somewhere. Both typify a 1970s combination of anxiety about marketing and incomprehension about interesting artwork. Allen is former Executive Director of the King County Arts Commission, and has served and director of cultural affairs (which I assume part of at least is art) for Dallas and San Jose.

Note to ambitious public artists – it pays off to have friends in high places.

Finally, George Johanson made two ceramic 4 x 20 murals for which symmetrically frame the outdoor pool (below).


EXTRA – Piedmont Neighborhood history

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