Monday, May 21, 2012

Notes from the road: Art in public places

We made a turbo trip down to Portland Mother's Day weekend to celebrate with the Mom Unit. Ben hopped on board -- somewhat reluctantly, I think.

Oh dear god. Not a again.
Like Vegas, I made it cell phone-picture only trip, fully intending to post nonstop, hilarious Facebook and Twitter images and bon mots about our adventures on the road. Of course, I totally did not account for my general ineptitude with social media the sketchy-at-best cyber service across Eastern Washington and through the Columbia Gorge.

In short. It didn't work so well.

So, Facebook/Twitter's loss is your gain. Over the next week or two, let's look at some of the high points of travel across the scablands of Eastern Washington into the Land of Milk and Honey (well, at least, a gazillion or so Douglas firs), starting with Art in Public Places.

We stopped in Connell, Wash., for breakfast as we got up at the butt-crack of dawn to begin our journey.

Aside: In hindsight -- always 20-20 -- a three-day road trip to Portland is just slightly crazy. The formula looks like this: 8 hours on road (thanks to traveling with a dog) + 24 hours in Portland running around maniacally accomplishing projects for the Mom Unit + 8 hours on the road home = WHEW.

Dude. What's your problem? The deck is great.
But back to Connell. It's a bucolic little town, population @ 5,150 (not counting the 800 or so inmates at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, located just north of Connell), whose primary industries are agriculture and jailery -- plus, it appears, art in public places.

I always had a hunch this was the case, based on the 15-foot metal flower you see standing sentry at the south edge of town. Ironically, this particular installation was funded by expansion of the corrections center.

But the crown jewel of Connell's public art are six bronze installations, collectively titled "Wildlife," scattered across town, each with their own little back story that reflects the rich history and culture of Connell. Coincidentally, the artist Tom Otterness also created one of my favorite installations at Western Washington University, the Number 2 Son's alma mater -- Feats of Strength.

The art is weirdly whimsical. Or whimsically weird. Or both. I really can't decide.

Even without my morning cuppa joe, I picked up on Otterness' sly sense of humor.

Get it? Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit are betting the farm.
Nevertheless, in this uncertain economy, I worry about Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit mortgaging the farm for a manure spreader.

I'd go with a Mediterranean cruise myself.

P.S. If you don't think a Connell "Wildlife: The Coloring Book" is an adequate souvenir for that special loved one, consider a gift certificate to Connell's fine-dining establishment Michael Jay's. Your loved one will not be disappointed.

It has four reviews on Yelp, for god's sake.


  1. Great sculptures. I'm glad you pointed out the bunnies because I wouldn't have recognised them. I also can't decide if the first pic is a dog or a squirrel. I have no idea what you mean by betting the farm. Am I stooped?

    Poor Mr B. We now realise that Georgia doesn't enjoy car trips either. Mom Unit! I love that name and can ony assume she never reads this blog OR has a great sense of humour. I didn't realise you were on FB and Twitter too. Am I the only blogger who only purely blogs?

  2. The first pic is a fox. I only know this because I totally geeked out and googled all about the sculptures and can now tell you far more than what you want to know about public art in Connell, Wash. That's just the way I roll, I guess.

    Bet the farm -- possibly something uniquely American (?), meaning putting everything on the line, risking everything, etc. I googled it also but no clue to its origin.

    Twitter -- my current social media science project. It completely baffles me.