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Stumptown Stumper

by: denise Farwell, Pete Beeman’s “Pod” represents both Portland’s famed infrastructure and opportunity for interaction. Like a good city, it needs people to swing it.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: What's the story behind the curious pendulumlike sculpture across from Powell's City of Books, at Northwest 10th Avenue and West Burnside Street?

A: Artist Pete Beeman, who installed the 'Pod' sculpture at the busy intersection in 2002, said the 30-foot interactive piece is symbolic of Portland's infrastructure and vibrancy.

'I was thinking about how Portland is designed and planned and built, and how the planning and infrastructure of Portland is really important in what makes Portland great,' said 39-year-old Beeman, a native Portlander. 'I was thinking of the static tripod as the infrastructure. The moving part was the vibrancy and life.'

When he was proposing the concept as part of the Portland Streetcar project five years ago, there was a lot of construction and rebuilding going on in the area, he said. Yet there were constant elements as well.

He said: 'Powell's has always been there, the clubs and bars and record stores. There's always been a lot going on down there, but it's always changing and shifting.'

With that in mind, he created 'Pod,' which stands on a static tripod but invites people to push it.

'Pod' fans can look forward to another interactive piece, slated for installation along the planned Clackamas light-rail extension.

A 20-foot tower, called 'Waving Post,' will have two horizontal arms that people will be able to crank up and down. The idea is for people to wave to the community on the other side of Interstate 205, because the neighborhood was split in half when the highway was built in the 1980s.

'Portland's planning and infrastructure over 40 or 50 years has made it a great city,' Beeman said. 'But the thing that really makes it work is that people are involved in it.'

Next week's Stumper: How many feet would you walk if you walked the most direct path through this year's Maize at Sauvie Island's Pumpkin Patch?

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