For a change of pace, I am reaching back to a vacation I took in 2016. This post is the third in a series about art and culture in Oregon. If you haven’t seen the other posts, please take a moment to read Part 1 and Part 2.
I took the following photos back in September of last year, when Jerry and I took a trip through Portland, Salem, Mt. Angel, and Lincoln City. It was a truly beautiful experience that was frankly hard to leave behind!
The most relaxing portion of our journey was definitely Mt. Angel Abbey, pictured below. It is a Benedictine monastery set in the hills north of Silverton. The grounds are open to the public, and we did spot several locals hiking or walking the Stations of the Cross. There is also a retreat house for people who want to make an extended stay.
We spent some quiet time in the church (left), which is open all day. The quality of silence and serenity was palpable — like nothing I have experienced before. If I had access to the peacefulness of that space on a regular basis, I think I would be a much calmer man. The few people we did encounter — monks, students, and visitors — were respectfully quiet. There is a seminary across from the church, and we enjoyed visiting its campus bookstore and cafe.
For the first time, we got to see Oregon’s rugged Pacific Coast. Specifically, we visited the little town of Lincoln City. The drive to the coast was literally the most dazzling, scenic road trip I have ever taken, full of mountainous vistas and dramatically winding roads. And the destination itself did not disappoint. I have never seen anything quite so bold and awe-inspiring as the Pacific ocean water charging up onto the unkempt beaches.
We spent most of our trip in our favorite city, Salem. One of those afternoons, we wandered around Riverfront Park, a 23-acre public outdoor space that follows the banks of the Willamette River (right). There were dozens of attractive features, including splash fountains, a pedestrian bridge, and the Gilbert House Children’s Museum. I was really taken with the statue in front of the museum (below). I couldn’t find any information about the artist, but there is another nice photograph of the piece here.
We noticed right away that the bricks along the park’s walkway were randomly interspersed with hand-painted tiles (below). One of these tiles bears the year “1996,” which was the year the park opened. As with the statue of the little girl, I couldn’t find any information about the origin of these tiles. I am guessing they were created by local school children. If so, what a cool way to leave your mark on a public space!
There was one piece in the park that didn’t present an unsolvable mystery! To the right, you see a powerful statue of Tom McCall, the storied Governor of Oregon from 1967-1975, sculpted by artist Rip Caswell. Mr. McCall was instrumental in cleaning up and beautifying the riverbanks and in establishing urban growth boundaries.
No visit to Oregon would be complete without a pilgrimage to the totem poles (left) by Kenny Scharf in Portland’s Jamison Square and a foot-baptism in the park’s stepped fountain (right). This has been one of my favorite spots to visit since our very first trip to the Pacific Northwest. It feels like entering an Acropolis or Saqqara built by Pop Artists.
If you ever get the chance, visit artistic Oregon!