Public Art – South Park Blocks

Walk Description

Wandering around looking at statues is not only relaxing but provides some flavor of Portland’s cultural style. Managed by the Regional Arts & Cultural Council, there are hundreds of pieces scattered throughout the metro area. Learn more.

Follow this Route

  1. Allow Me – Pioneer Courthouse Square
  2. Animals in Pools – near SW Morrison & SW 6th Ave (alongside Pioneer Courthouse)
  3. Brushstrokes – Portland Art Museum – outdoors
  4. The Quest nudes – Standard Insurance Buildings – on Broadway near South Park Blocks
  5. Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt Statues – between the art museum and historical society.
  6. Lewis & Clark Mural – Located on the building next to the Oregon Historical Society.

Allow Me — “The Umbrella Man”

Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland's 'Living Room.'

Umbrella Man, an iconic 1983 bronze sculpture by John Seward Johnson, welcomes tourists to Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Allow Me, also known as Umbrella Man,[1] is an iconic 1983 bronze sculpture by John Seward Johnson II, located in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, United States. The sculpture, one of seven Allow Me casts, was donated anonymously to the City of Portland in 1984 for display in the Square. It depicts a life-sized man dressed in a business suit, hailing a cab and holding an umbrella. Constructed from bronze, aluminum, and stainless steel, the sculpture stands six feet, ten inches tall and weighs 460 pounds. It is one of many works of art generated by the city’s Percent for Art Program and is considered part of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Source: Wikipedia  Learn more.

After ten years, in 1995, the sculpture was removed from its pedestal and transferred to California for its first major restoration. To maintain its shine, Allow Me receives cold wax coatings every year. It is a popular tourist attraction and local landmark which serves as a reference point for gatherings, or political rallies. Allow Me has received a positive reception and is renowned for its realistic appearance; the ‘Umbrella Man’ has been called the “most photographed man in Portland,” and serves as a symbol of the city and its residents.

Animals in Pools

Bears in a Pool
Part of the Animals in Pool sculptures
Bronze otters on edge of pool.
Bronze otters on the edge of the pool.

Animals in Pools is a series of ten trough-style fountains and twenty-five life-size bronze sculptures of Pacific Northwest animals, designed by American artist Georgia Gerber and installed in 1986 as part of the renovations associated with MAX Light Rail construction.[1][2] Funded by the Downtown Merchants Local Improvement District, TriMet, and the United States Department of Transportation, the sculptures were presented as gifts to the city.[1] The pieces were installed on the block bounded by Southwest Yamhill and Morrison Streets and Southwest Fifth and Sixth Avenues in downtown Portland.[2][3] Animals in Pools is in the collection of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council.[4]

Gerber described Animals in Pools as “art for the people,” designed in a way that encourages interactivity and “[brings] a bit of Pacific Northwestern wildlife to downtown in a fun and unexpected way.”[1] Depicted animals include a mother bear fishing for her two cubs, beavers, deer, ducks, otters, and seals.[5][6][7] The fountains run all day during the spring, summer and fall seasons.[2][3] – Source – Wikipedia To learn more.

“The Quest” Nudes at Standard Insurance Plaza

Public Art Nudes at Standard Insurance PlazaCarved from massive blocks of stone, the sculptures dominate the 5th Avenue side of the Standard Insurance Plaza.

The Quest, sometimes referred to as Saturday Night at the Y or Three Groins in a Fountain,[1][2] is an outdoor marble sculpture and fountain designed by Count Alexander von Svoboda, located in Portland, Oregon in the United States. The sculpture, carved in Italy from a single 200-ton block of white Pentelic marble quarried in Greece, was commissioned by Georgia-Pacific in 1967 and installed in front of the Standard Insurance Center in 1970. It depicts five nude figures, including three females, one male, and one child. According to the artist, the subjects represent man’s eternal search for brotherhood and enlightenment.

As of 1990, The Quest was considered Portland’s largest single piece of white sculptured marble. The abstract, figurative sculpture was surveyed by the Smithsonian Institution‘s “Save Outdoor Sculpture!” program in 1994 and underwent minor repairs. It has received mixed reviews. One critic appreciated how its flowing lines contrasted with the “stark” pillars of the adjacent building and called the marble “impressive.” Another writer for The Oregonian wrote of her and others’ dislike for the sculpture, saying it serves as a “free sex-education lesson” for schoolchildren. – Source: Wikipedia

Learn more.

Honest Abe Lincoln and Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt

Public Art Abe Lincoln Statue South Park Blocks
Abe Lincoln stands in Portland’s South Park Blocks with First Congregational Church behind him

In the Park Blocks between the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Historical Society, these are massive statues with an interesting history. After all, why would Portland Oregon feature Lincoln? Or Roosevelt? They are major features of the South Park Blocks.

Source: Wikipedia – The South Park Blocks form a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon.[2] The Oregonian has called it Portland’s “extended family room,” as Pioneer Courthouse Square is known as Portland’s “living room.”[3]

Twelve blocks in length, it is intersected by the Portland Streetcar and forms the Portland Cultural District and the green space at the center of Portland State University.[4] The New York Times stated the blocks are “literally at the heart of the city’s cultural life.”[5] Every block contains public art, such as Shemanski Fountain (1926), designed by Carl L. Linde, with drinking wells, including drinking wells for dogs.[6][7][8] Other art includes Paul Sutinen’s In the Shadow of the Elm (built into the pavement),[9][10] and three large blocks of granite titled Peace Chant (1984).[3] Two large statues are in the block: a $40,000, 18 feet (5.5 m) bronze equestrian statue called Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider, designed by Alexander Phimister Proctor, commissioned by Roosevelt’s personal friend and Portlander Henry Waldo Coe and added in 1922, and one of Abraham Lincoln, “facing north, slump-shouldered and pensive”, added in 1928, commissioned by Coe in 1926, sculpted by George Fife Waters.[3][4][11][12][13][14][15] The park also contains approximately 337 elm, oak, and maple trees valued at $3.4 million, as well as roses.[16][17] A plaque from the Lang Syne Society was placed in the South Park Blocks at Jefferson Street in 1991, commemorating the Great Plank Road.[18] – Source: Wikipedia  Learn more.

Portland Art Museum Flowers & More

Portland Art Museum Robert Melee Sculpture
Robert Melee “Her Leaving” sculpture
Portland Art Museum Brushstrokes by Richard Lichtenstein
“Brushstrokes” by Richard Lichtenstein

Visitors to the museum are greeted by several sculptures near the entrance and in the courtyard near the coffee shop. You need to see them in person to appreciate their size and beauty. I call them the melted crayons. They are named “Her Leaving,” “It Leaving,” and “It Sitting” sculptures by Robert Melee (born 1966).