I must have walked past this metal assemblage, on a pedestrian trail just west of Keller Auditorium, hundreds of times. But it was only this past weekend that I realized that it is not a garish and whimsical air vent, but a work of art.
It's called Awning, and it was made in 1976 by a Canadian sculptor named Douglas Senft, whose other work includes an enormous drill bit, a fountain of outsized maple leaves and a steel bird nest. Any of those things would be readily recognizable as art if placed in the same context as Awning, but Awning is not. It doesn't help that there is no plaque to be found anywhere in the vicinity to indicate that the sculpture was designed by anyone but an anonymous metalworker.
If the Portland Development Commission is going to buy art that looks like ductwork, it should at least be labeled as such. Or is the piece's anonymity intentional, and the indifference of unaware passers-by its real achievement? Oh, my head!