Our Hikes Start With Mysterious Art Installations

The art on Northwest Saltzman Road is irreverent, unexpected and the product of one man.

Flea Zorkus (Courtesy Ken Zell)

The oddities begin almost as soon as Northwest Saltzman Road starts its winding, one-lane ascent from Highway 30 up to the trailhead into Forest Park. A caution sign warns, “Laundry Ahead. Expect Delays.” Soon enough, a gigantic clothespin dangles a pink brassiere over the road. Drivers often pause to take photos of the roadside art attractions: a 1959 Jaguar that was pulled from the bottom of the Willamette River and now is wrapped around a fir tree, and a five-stall “rest area” complete with water towers and a windmill.

The art is irreverent, unexpected and the product of one man: Saltzman Road resident Ken Zell. Zell, 75, is the founder of Faustrollean Fixture Company, an architectural woodworking business. When he retired eight years ago, he began this passion project he calls the “Flea Zorkus.”

“People say it brings them a lot of joy,” he says. “I like the idea of interrupting what you expect coming up the road—you’re thinking you’re going into the woods and, all of a sudden, it’s something different.”

Though most of the art is on his property, he pulled a city permit for the Jag since it’s so close to the road. He hasn’t gotten any pushback from neighbors or park officials. “The water people are real fans,” he says, as are the park rangers.

Almost all the materials are reclaimed: The rest area is constructed with leftover bleachers that his company built for Nike, and the “toilets” are scraps from the Goby Walnut lumber store down the street. Coming soon: a “bunny church” and the “City of Lost Toasters.”

Flea Zorkus (Courtesy Ken Zell)

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