There are so many things to happily stumble upon in downtown Portland. One of my favorites is finding art in surprising places. This week I came across the construction site for the Park Avenue West office building. Construction of this new high-rise office building was halted in 2009, presumably due to the economy. While the developer hopes to complete construction in 2015, for now it is a hole in the ground at SW Morrison Street and Park Avenue (one block west of Pioneer Courthouse Square). Pedestrians cannot fall into the hole because the builders placed fences and walkways all around the site, making it just a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else. But recently this construction site was transformed into a work of art that is a destination all its own.
This new art installation may look a bit chaotic. But the work is brought together by its thematic design, and by its underlying message that Portlanders deserve something better than a conventional construction zone for an entire city block in the heart of their City for years to come. I think it is an ingenious use of the space.
All four sides of the block are illuminated with a work of art called Billions and Billions of People. Sponsored by TMT Development, it is a collaborative project by New Avenues for Youth, thirty homeless youth, and professional artists Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson.
They have created a stunning patchwork of human faces, and it is hard to walk by without stopping to look.
The pedestrian tunnels are now absolutely inviting.
Parts of the installation are rough around the edges, but worth noticing. The little guy in green is one of my favorites. That’s how I feel when I’m looking for a parking space, which is why I usually take the bus.
Some of the work can only be viewed from across the street:
There is quite a difference between how the faces look in the sunshine and in the shade. I was glad to be there on a sunny day, and I think the exhibit will be even more interesting this spring as the sun gets higher in the sky.
Some of the paintings are larger than others. All look towards the left.
I would like to know more about the youth who painted this one:
This one represents just how I felt while looking at this art display:
(If you’re interested in seeing more of this mural, I just found a beautiful post from Andrea at Hula Seventy.)