Portlandia is a 35-foot-tall hammered copper statue. Portlandia is a satirical TV series. To my mind, Portlandia speaks to the ecclectic culture of Portland, Oregon.
According to Wikipedia, Portland is “known for its abundant outdoor activities, liberal political values, and beer and coffee enthusiasm. Portland is home to a large number of independent microbreweries, microdistilleries and food carts that contribute to the unofficial slogan ‘Keep Portland Weird’. In comparing Portland to New York City and San Francisco, Lonely Planet writer Becky Ohlsen said, ‘Something about how cheap and isolated Portland is, allows oddballs to explore odd behavior without being squished by economics or the harsh judgment of fashion people.'”
I pass through the heart of Portland about once a month on my way to visit my parents. Sometimes, I leave the highways and take a detour into a neighborhood to explore, and that is just what I did on Sunday.
In one two-block area of downtown is a collection of “Animals in Pools” bronze sculptures. In December, the pools were drained, but the sculptures are still worth looking at. Especially this one, that had me thinking of my Flickr friend, Mic the Otter Spotter.
Other sculptures in this section had been “yarn bombed” as I had seen recently on the evening news.
In Pioneer Square, a popular plaza, one enterprising young man had set up a seasonal shop in anticipation of afternoon Christmas shoppers.
At the opposite side of Pioneer Square, was a bronze that I dubbed “Umbrella Man”. He had been yarn bombed, too. And I wasn’t the only one interested in taking his picture.
The plaza has tourist facilities, too, including a helpful signpost offering directions to Tipperary, Walden Pond, Casablanca, and the other Portland, as well as local points of interest.
One very Portland sight that is older than my oldest memories is the Benson Bubbler. All together, there are 52 of these 4-bowl bubblers and 74 1-bowl versions in downtown Portland. They are turned off late at night or when frigid weather threatens to freeze them. To me, they are a welcoming fixture that says, “Glad you’re here. Please stay awhile and enjoy the city. And if you should get thirsty, no worries, the water is cold and clear and plenty of it.”
And about that 35-foot-tall hammered copper statue I mentioned at the beginning, well here she is. Portlandia.
All in all, this was a delightful break from the dark, dreary days of December with new-to-me sights as well as comforting old ones. And the weather even cooperated. It doesn’t get much better than that.