Public Art. OMG, it's everywhere!

Portlanders are generally aware of the many public artworks that are sprinkled throughout the downtown core. From the much-loved Allow Me and Portlandia to the often-maligned Pod and Dog Bowl, there's a lot of art on the streets in downtown Portland.

What many people don't know is that public art punctuates the landscape in outlying neighborhoods, community centers, and natural areas as well. Last week, RACC Executive Director Eloise Damrosch led staff and board members on a tour of some of the lesser-known pieces in the city's public art collection, focusing on North and Northeast Portland.

Now, being a resident of North Portland myself, I was especially pleased to show off some of the "undiscovered" works at Smith & Bybee Lakes, the Water Pollution Control Lab in St. Johns, the integration of public art into New Columbia, and the community collaboration of public art at the ReBuilding Center on N. Mississippi. (Shown below, in the same order:)

For a complete slideshow retelling of the RACC public art "undiscovered" tour, click here.


MightyToyCannon said...

Not that RACC doesn't already have a ton of info and links on its website, but any thoughts of doing a Google Map pinpointing public art sites, accompanied by photos?

I was playing around with Flickr over the weekend and started a map with photos of street art in my neighborhood (link below). It's a very small "collection" at this point, but I was just playing around to figure out how it works.

culturejock said...

Yeah, those Google maps are pretty cool. We are trying to figure out how to integrate our existing database of public art descriptions, locations, and photos with the Google system rather than having to manually input thousands of artworks into their system. OPB actually started a nice Google Map earlier this year when they did a segment on public art:

And we're looking at some of the other mapping/photo systems out there, including one that Travel Portland uses. I hadn't seen the Flickr one but I like it.

shobiz said...

Currently, we do have basic Google map links to a majority of our public art pieces, which can be found on the details pages of each record on our site. One challenge involved in making one large map with everything pinned (plus photos, etc.) is that we have nearly 2,000 pieces in the inventory. That would make for one very full, very slow-performing map if we loaded everything on it at once. We could maybe come up with a method to display, say, 50 at a time, with "Next 50/Previous 50" links. However, the RACC web developer's skills (ahem) haven't quite progressed to the point where he can leverage the power of the free-yet-very-complicated Google Maps API for that kind of dynamic map generation. It can be done manually, of course, which is how most of those I have seen thus far have been built. Ultimately, though, it makes more sense for the map to be constantly updated with our live data, and that will take some doing. Stay tuned.

MightyToyCannon said...

I can only imagine the complications involved in mapping 2,000 pieces of public art inventory, even with the highly advanced skills and brainpower of RACC's web developer! (Ahem, indeed, Shobiz). I've become interested in the whole online mapping topic lately, curious about unusual ways people are using online mapping capabilities. For instance, what if Oregon 150's collection of "Oregon Stories" had the option of pinning stories and images to specific places? Has anyone yet written a piece of fiction in which the story is told by navigating around a map and reading sections associated with each place that has been pinned (perhaps accompanied by images)? Could a story be constructed that would work even if the reader unravels it out of sequence. What about a memoir written via map? Or the history of a neighborhood or city?

culturejock said...

If you know the location of the yeti then I do agree that we should start mapping him right away!

cynseattle said...

no yeti!