Wysong based her design on small steel tools used around the turn of the 20th century to rope logs together and float them down the Willamette. These log dogs became the artist’s central motif for the project after a long process of community input, coordinated by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services. According to the bureau’s spokesman, Linc Mann, the sculptures cost a total of $59,800, funded dually by the city’s “Percent for Art” program and a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They’re an aesthetic component of the otherwise utilitarian “Route to the River/Green Street” project, which has improved stormwater management by adding drainage swales and greenery in targeted areas around Portland.
With its richly rusted surface, Eye River shares visual currency with the nearby Inversion: Plus Minus—public-art structures by Seattle’s Lead Pencil Studio. But unlike the soaring Inversion, the new sculptures don’t dwarf pedestrians; they’re roughly human-sized and, indeed, have a welcoming, human feel. When you stand on the sidewalk and look at them, they seem to look right back at you and say: “C’mon—this way to the river!” “Some people have told me it reminds them of a goddess shape,” Wysong says. “It’s interesting that some people can look at it as a goddess, but other people see this macho industrial tool from the logging industry. So it has a range, an abstract beauty that’s not limited.” We couldn’t agree more.
GO: For more information about Eye River, visit lindawysong.com.