Fanno Creek Trail users in the Garden Home neighborhood will notice a recent change in the landscape.
Several weathered steel sculptures have been installed, just above the ground, along a 120-foot section of the trail near SW 86th Avenue. The project was funded by the state's Percent for Art ordinance.
“The Bureau of Environmental Services upgraded and enlarged the pump station along the trail,” explained Bruce Barbarasch, THPRD’s superintendent of Natural Resources & Trails Management, “so a little chunk of money was set aside for community giveback.”
The Regional Arts and Culture Council convened a committee, which included a handful of nearby residents, to identify an artist for the project.
“The two artists that we selected are emerging artists in the field of public art,” Barbarasch said of Portland duo David Boekelheide and Christina Conant. Their creation, titled “Undercurrent,” evokes a flowing path of water, with overlapping sections of sculpture that simulate the topography that dictates Fanno Creek’s course.
Boekelheide said the fabrication of the 4-inch-wide segments, each about six to 12 feet in length, took about a month to complete.
Barbarasch said the artists did a nice job connecting with neighbors, walking the trail, and doing plenty of the research to inform their creation.
“That’s an important part of public art,” Boekelheide said. “It’s not like making art for a gallery or for yourself; you’re making it for other people. The more you understand them -- and learn about what’s important to them and what might be appropriate for their environment -- the more successful the project will be.”
Boekelheide said that he and Conant studied native tribes, the influence of the Oregon Electric Railway upon early settlement, the topography, and the vegetation. Their installation included the planting of several edibles, including red currant, salmonberry, and thimbleberry.
“We did a lot of research into the history of the area, about what makes it unique,” Boekelheide said. “The creek flows through because of the hill, and it’s a flat area, which is why the pump station is there. This greenspace exists because of the crease in the valley; it’s all about water flow.”
“Undercurrent” is owned by the City of Portland, and will be cared for by THPRD. Signage with a statement from the artists will accompany the installation.