Art worth a wagging ovation
'Dog Bowl' is perfect for the parched pooch
Some of Portland's homeless hounds will be among the first to taste-test the bubbling water in a cast bronze bowl. They also will be on the lookout for loving homes.
William Wegman, the creator of 'Portland Dog Bowl,' will be there to unveil the city's latest work of public art in a noon ceremony in the North Park Blocks, located between Northwest Davis and Everett streets.
Adoptable canines like Scout, an easygoing hound from animal rescue group Foster Pets, will be on hand. Scout will be joined by Claudia Smith, president of Foster Pets. Smith urges people who are thinking about getting a dog to save a life and visit Multnomah County Animal Control in Troutdale, where dogs are currently crowded three to a kennel. Dogs from the Oregon Humane Society also will attend today's ceremony.
In the evening, the Savage gallery will host a reception for Wegman and a benefit for the Oregon Humane Society and Pearl Arts Foundation. Seven new Polaroids of Wegman's famous dogs, (measuring 20 inches by 24 inches) will be for sale, and part of the proceeds will go to these groups.
Other new photographs by Wegman will be added to an expanded show of his work opening Feb. 22.
'Portland Dog Bowl' is the brainchild of the Pearl Arts Foundations' executive director, Paige Powell. The bronze bowl is an homage to the city's Benson Bubblers, but unlike the city fountains, the dog bowl sits flat on tiles that resemble a parquet kitchen floor, surrounded by grass. The continuously flowing water is piped in underground and was designed by Portland's Lango-Hansen Landscape Architects.
This is not the first site-specific work by William Wegman, best known for photographs of his eerie, soulful Weimaraner dogs, the now-
deceased Man and Fay Ray, and their offspring Battina, Chundo and Crooky.
'The most major piece of outdoor sculpture I did was called 'La Jolla Vista View,' Wegman said recently from his Manhattan studio, 'It is part of a collection of nontraditional sculpture that Mary pulled together.'
Mary is Mary Livingstone Beebe, a friend and colleague of Wegman's who also will be in town to attend the sculpture's unveiling. Beebe, a former Portlander, was head of the Portland Center for Visual Arts in the early '70s. For the past 20 years, she has been the director of the Stuart Collection, a collection of nontraditional sculpture located on the University of California, San Diego, campus.
Reached in San Diego, Beebe said: 'Bill and I met in the '70s at the Portland Center for Visual Arts, and I later ran into him in a party in L.A. and I asked him, 'Have you been thinking about sculpture at all?' He said that he was, which he admitted later was a lie.'
'But he came to the campus and we had a great time walking around the campus and considering projects. He completed 'La Jolla Vista View' (a parody of a scenic overlook with a telescope that peers down onto a view of condos and shopping malls rather than what one might typically expect Ñ the headwaters of a river, for example) in 1987.'
Such humorous works of public art only add to a city's vitality, Beebe says.
'They pique people's awareness, and they provide a moment in the city of thoughtful intervention and conversation and color and humor. They are landmarks, and they become meeting places.'