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Tuesday 01.17.06

« 2006, highlights for the year ahead in Portland art | Main | Extreme Ceramics »

a little of this and that

First off, I absolutely agree with the Portland Architecture blog. At 45 million Portland's aerial tram is absolutely worth it. Besides, no public transit project worth a hoot costs 15 million, and this one spurs 1.9 billion in development. Then there is the fact that it allows OHSU (Portland's biggest employer) to expand. Not to mention it is the first really ambitious bit of world class signature architecture the city has attempted since the Freemont bridge. In that context it seems like a good deal. Visually, it gives Portland a symbol of its new progressive on the outside as well as inside image.

Jerry Saltz's brilliant review of Robert Rauschenberg's combines is right on and one of his best bits of writing to date. Although I reject the idea of RR being the American Picasso, he is the artist that exemplified how Americans pragmatically reinvent themselves (at all costs, including risking serious duds).

I logged a lot of time in front of the last combine pictured, Studio Painting, when it was on display at the Portland Art Museum a year or two ago. The way the piece foregrounded the idea of internal studio practices and pointed towards the transmission of the messy results via the image of telephone wires was practically romantic (even down to the pun of the two halves of the painting held in tension by the wall mountings, taut string and counterbalancing weight). In that painting Rauschenberg presents the studio struggle as a manufactured crime scene with a corpse, perpetrator, motive, opportunity and murder weapon he fabricated. Like Joseph Cornell, Rauschenberg always treated collaged elements as a game but unlike Duchamp was willing to play with readymades even if it meant losing. In Studio Painting Rauschenberg has it both ways; he wins then dismisses the outcome by pointing out how it was rigged. Artists love him because nobody purposefully cheated greatness of its patina better while achieving it. Current collage artists like Phoebe Washburn and Sarah Sze seem to be unwilling to cheat against their own system of rules like Rauschenberg.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 17, 2006 at 22:54 | Comments (4)


Hear hear! Totally echoed. The tram will truly be a gateway for so many people. It's a celebration of architecture ("Portland's Space Needle") as it will soar through the sky, add some touch of futurism (with style, of course) and be a very unique type project that is truy the first of its kind in terms of city-based transport. Those cars hold up to 80 people...thats almost 2 busloads. Have you ever taken the #8!!!! Then you know. The folks in the Laird Hill and Corbett neighborhoods who have been vocal about the changes to their welfare will rejoice when they are connected with a pedestrian bridge to the water, making their property values soar - and due to that most likely new business will be drawn there too. It is overall a totally tremendous idea. The press is way too hung up on the increased costs (almost ALL paid in full by OHSU by launch time). When this thing is built and complete, sometime early next year, all Portlanders will rejoice that we have made an investment in the future of our city. And to the naysayers, they will be the first bullying up to take the ride in the sky. Your support in the shadow of doubt will prove itself! :)

Posted by: TJ Norris [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2006 07:29 AM

I always thought the tram was more of a Shelbyville project.

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.
Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: Once again...
All: Monorail!
Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
All: Monorail!
[big finish]
Homer: Mono... D'oh!

Posted by: stephencleary [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2006 08:08 AM

Jeff, I'm a little surprised to see you spell Sze's name as "Tse." Typo?

I would think people who's last names are "Jahn" would be careful about foisting alternative name spellings on others ;-)

Posted by: SimEnzo [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2006 10:03 AM

Thank you Sim... fixed, I have a S. "Tze" for a close friend and it's in the muscle memory.

Actually, I'm a big fan of Elizabethan style phonetic spellings... radical, but I find written language becomes more engrossing when I read olde English vs the more standardized form now. As for spellings I'm more annoyed when my name is mispronounced (but I expect it, unless you are German or a serious architecture buff you wouldn't know my name is pronounced "Yahn").

As for the tram, its a bit too easy to use the Simpsons.. which really applies more to the very silly and very recent attempt by Seattle to expand the monorail (with all their traffic problems, sheesh).

Admittedly the tram is a bit of stunt atchitecture... but what separates it from some folly is how its tied in to 1.9 billion in development and its symbolic value. A monorail is simply a cheesy reminder of a future that came and went. The tram by being aerial has a certain highly visible geek-cool but more utilitarian aspect as well.

As a statement the tram says, ambitious/practical/progressive and i'ts more European planning than Buck Rodgers or the Jetsons. All that is very needed and if it helps change the face Portland gives the world then it's not just a transit project, it's a signal to employers, investors, and progressive minded people etc.

Lastly, I'm all for Portland getting credit as a place for non-automotive based transit in the US and the tram definitely will do that. Im certain some would prefer we use rickshaws as a cheaper solution but embracing new ideas is necessary. Many called Eifel's Tower a folly but its collateral symbolic effects were huge. Simply going the cheapest and least imaginative route all the time only gives you a cut rate city. Back in 1905 (with the world's fair) Portland was very very ambitious. Now the city is re-awakening to that once dormant ambition and history with the tram.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2006 11:06 AM

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