Mystery: What has become of Kvinneakt, the naked female statue made famous along with Bud Clark? It used to be in front of a bank on the downtown bus mall.
—Michael Kuhn, Portland
First, let’s bring our less-ancient readers (no offense, Mike) up to speed on what you’re asking:
Back in the 1980s, before Hefeweizen, the Dandy Warhols, and Tonya Harding put us on the nation’s cultural radar, Portland was pretty much the Akron of the West—not really famous for anything in particular.
In those days, we had to take whatever notoriety we could get, and some of that was due to a 1973 poster by photographer Michael Ryerson called “Expose Yourself to Art.” The poster depicted a disreputable-looking bearded man in a raincoat flashing the statue in question, a bronze nude by Norman Taylor. It made us famous because the bartender who posed as the flasher, Bud Clark, was elected mayor in 1984.
Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear that Kvinneakt (Norwegian for “naked lady”— remember that if you’re ever in Oslo) hasn’t gone far.
“During the construction for the new light rail, all of the existing sculptures were removed, cleaned and re-sited,” says Peggy Kendellen, of the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Kvinneakt is now on Southwest 6th Avenue between Morrison and Alder streets. Donations toward a parallel effort to remove, clean, and re-site former Mayor Bud Clark can be sent to this newspaper.
The original photo was considered culturally significant enough to be enclosed in a time capsule in the cornerstone of Good Samaritan hospital, though future generations will probably be too distracted by the frog that sings “Hello My Baby” to pay it much attention.