Thursday, April 16, 2009
Art in public places
Jon and I took an outing to northeastern Oregon yesterday. We had to cope with a late-spring snowstorn and horrendous white-out conditions, but the drive to Joseph was worth it. I remember going to Joseph as a kid; our parents took us camping to Wallowa Lake for a week almost every summer. Joseph was just a sleepy little town to drive through. No more! I was stunned yesterday to see magnificent bronze statues lining a three-block section of Main Street. Horses, deer, wolves, cougars, fish, cowboys (a cowboy on a bucking bronc was especially mind-boggling!) and Indians. Joseph, Oregon, is named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe.
You can read more about Joseph's Art Walk in the article I wrote for Suite101. This wasn't a planned article, but I couldn't help myself. I just had to share this with others.
Art in public places adds so much to a city. I really enjoyed the sculptures the government placed around Beijing. Usual places like parks, but also alongside major highways or just somewhere on a sidewalk. Whoever decided to place the gigantic beer mug in Sanlitun had to have a keen sense of humor. Not only is Sanlitun a key embassy area, it has many watering holes popular with partying foreigners. The Xinhua bookstore in Xidan had an uneven stack of books for its statues. And the rickshaw driver on the Wangfujing pedestrial mall was very popular with Chinese and foreigners alike who would hop in the rickshaw for a photo op.
The Olympic Green in Beijing is filled with sculptures the length of the green. They also are popular places for people to have their pictures taken. When we were in Beijing, I didn't have time to walk the length of the green to see all the statues, but the ones I did see were great. I particularly enjoyed the two people, dressed in ancient garb, playing soccer.
For more information about traveling in China, please see my website.