Friday, April 29, 2005

North Portlanders can’t handle real art

According to Phil Stanford at The Trib, only folks in the Pearl “get” art, deserve art, and can appreciate it. Ooooohhhhh no, should us NoPolians be able to understand artspeak and enjoy it. It’s way too high-falutin for us, right?

Here’s what Phil-o says:
Connoisseurs of public art will want to take in the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s latest contribution to P-town’s cultural life, installed last month at the New Columbia housing project on North Columbia Boulevard. … According to the council’s latest newsletter, it’s a 30-foot section of a tree that’s been “replanted” upside down — you know, branches down, trunk up — and is called the “Big Tree Sculpture.” … My hunch is that it’s one of those things that would probably go over better in the Pearl. But then, what do I know about art?
(I’m not going to honor this crap with a link.)

What’s the real deal? This is a piece of Portland’s wonderful percent for art project…”The City of Portland and Multnomah County Percent for Art ordinances dedicate 1.33% of the total costs of capital improvement projects to the selection, acquisition, siting, maintenance, administration, deaccessioning, community education and registration of public art.” For more information go here.
When I first moved to Portland I thought this was the most amazing thing: poems built into sidewalks, fountains with sculptures, surprises hidden like little gems into the walls and public places. When I encounter public art, it reminds me why I live in Portland.

So this crazy tree. It’s really not so crazy. I live within walking distance of the New Columbia. Back when it was the Old Sad Columbia, it was rich with big old trees. With the new development, and complete razing of the neighborhood, some of these trees had to go.

Hmm. Remind me. How does Portland feel about its trees? Yeah, well, we love them a lot. So one of these trees was salvaged. Yes, in the true Portland spirit of recycle and reuse, one of these trees has been turned into public art.

But wait, there’s more. It's not like RACC was some weird rogue or something...they worked in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation and the Housing Authority of Portland, to recycle this tree.
The tree has been turned upside down, and now is in the playground. Check out the coolest thing ever:
The tree comes in
Here it comes (photo supplied by RACC)

The tree has arrived
Here it is (photo supplied by RACC)

How many kids grew up playing in that tree when it was alive? And how many kids will grow up playing in that tree in its new life? This is art developed in and of the things I love so much about Portland: reusing what you have, and doing the unexpected— for everyone. Even for those of us who live in North Portland.

To learn more about celebrating and welcoming the first residents of the New Columbia, and the art they will co-exist with, GO HERE.

Thank you Phil, for introducing me to the amazing new art coming to my neighborhood. And here's a newsflash: we get it.
You don't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are talking about the Villa! Can't wait to see it revamped.