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Pearl arts group takes its final bow

The Pearl Arts Foundation, a privately funded Portland organization, has decided to call it quits.

Founded in October 1999, Pearl Arts brought the work of high-profile artists such as William Wegman and Kenny Scharf to the Pearl District. Scharf's bright Tikitotemoniki totems are on Northwest 11th Avenue. Wegman's bronze 'Portland Dog Bowl,' an homage to the city's Benson Bubbler drinking fountains, is in the North Park blocks, between Northwest Davis and Everett streets.

These public art coups were achieved mostly by Pearl Arts Foundation Director Paige Powell. She is the former editor of Interview magazine in New York and maintains close ties with many '80s-era art stars.

'Regardless that we had planned on a minimum of five artworks for Portland, we are nothing short of abundantly pleased with the phenomenal success of our first two completed projects,' Powell said.

A recent decision by artist and architect Maya Lin not to go forward with Pearl Arts' latest project, 'Playground,' was a blow to the organization, after having worked for three years to raise funds for the sculpture. Raising money in a weak economy also concerned the arts group.

'For us it was timing,' Powell said. 'The projects were planned out for the future and we couldn't just wait. Maya came on because she loved that we were private and the way that we were working.

'Everyone's intentions were so good. Maybe this could have worked in a healthier economy.'

Ñ Michaela Bancud