Illuminated Sculpture Art Along Rail Lines

Public art  starts a dialogue between people of all kinds of different backgrounds and ages. It can have a political or aesthetic cause or it can be used to communicate community values. Portland’s public art program has been nationally acclaimed according to the Regional Arts and Culture Council. There is even an app for smart phones of Portland public art now that displays a GPS map of the city with public art points of interest scattered throughout the city. It’s clear that this is a medium which Portlanders value and will continue to value for sometime.

One of the interesting things about public art is its ability to make connections to people of all sorts of backgrounds. According to TriMet (Portland’s public transportation system), more than 315,000 riders use TriMet to go about the city on any weekday. TriMet supports its riders with public art installations at or near many of their stops. This exhibit takes a look at four of the installations which all share two particular things in common: sculpture and light. This combination is an aesthetically-pleasing type of art that combines the technology of urban lighting with the conventional, and sometimes not so conventional, forms of sculpture. Below you will find a technical description as well as photo for these installations.

Rockwood Sunrise by Dan Corson 2011 

At Rockwood Station Max stop. Portland, Oregon

Rockwood at Night

Rockwood Sunrise at night, notice the tips of the sunrise have changed colors.

Rockwood daytime

Rockwood Sunrise during the day has teal tips when not illuminated.

Rockwood Station

View of Rockwood Sunrise from across the street shows the scale of this sculpture towering above the platform

The Rockwood Sunrise is a large display that towers over the train platform. It is made with painted steel and fiberglass.  The rays of the sunrise have teal colored tips that contain LED lighting.  As the train approached the platform they hit a trigger that sets off a  five minute display of color changes. Rockwood Sunrise is a tall sculpture which is awesome in the light and breathtaking in the dark as the colors change from bright and cheerful during the day and dazzling and beautiful at night.  It is reminiscent of a crown, Ferris wheel, fan, or sunrise evoking the playfulness of childhood.

Iris by Pete Beeman 2010 

Civic Drive Max stop.  Gresham, Oregon

The Iris stands 22’ tall is made with stainless steel, plated steel, and powder-coated aluminum and steel blades.  There are two layers of blades that move in opposite directions, as the outer blades expand the inner blades contract. The blades move when someone comes to turn a hand crank.  The crank not only moves the blades but also drives a generator that powers a light in the center of the iris making it illuminate at night.

Iris is a bright and colorful sculpture on top of a single stem that invites the traveler to take a moment out of their busy day and playfully turn the hand crank causing the flower petals to open and close while illuminating the top.  Iris patiently waits for the next traveler to interact with it to change shapes and share a little happiness in their day.

The correlation between these beautifully colored illuminated sculptures is their playfulness, cheerfulness, and variety of shape and form enriching the traveler viewing them and the neighborhood residents that get to enjoy them every day with the possibility of sparking creativity and validating the imagination of future artists.


Lents Hybrids

A view of both of Lents Hybrids

Lents Hybrids by Brian Borrello 2009 

At Lents Town Center Max stop. Portland, Oregon

Three sculptures are on this train platform.   They are all spiral shaped and resemble plants with “buds” on top.  They have vertical wind turbines and rotate to help power a generator.  Photovoltaic cells allow solar power to also contribute power to the generator.  The generator powers LED lights that illuminate the sculpture at night. If the power is low the lights pulse slowly, and if more power is stored the light will pulse more rapidly. Lents Hybrids bring to mind the native wild grasses in the area and has tall grasses scattered around the station.  The wind turbines at the top of the sculpture are activated with a calm breeze causing the tops to turn as the grasses sway reminding travelers of the native wild grasses of a long gone meadow.

Silicon Forest by Brian Borrello 

At the Interstate/Rose Quarter Max stop. Portland, Oregon

Silicon Forest

Silicon Forest during the day.

Silicon Forest at night.

Silicon Forest Illuminated at night.

Made with stainless steel and LED lights. The tops of the trees have solar panels.  At night the lights powered  by the solar panels flicker resembling fire. The Silicone Forest represents the changes that was once a small forest before being developed into a neighborhood and later into the massive sports and event complex with a few trees saved from destruction in the area.  While waiting for the train the traveler can notice the tree rings in the concrete that are symbolic of the former forest.  At night the metal trees are illuminated from the power of solar panels which give them an enjoyable green glow of vibrant leaves.