Portland artists create installations for Division Streetscape

PORTLAND, Ore.— Portland based artists Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis have completed a public art installation as part of the recent streetscape improvements for SE Division. The project was funded through the City of Portland’s 2% for Art ordinance. The works will be celebrated on Friday, October 24th, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Openfest, featuring music, a beer garden, and other activities and celebrations throughout the day. Ribbon cutting festivities will take place at 10:00 a.m. at SE 31st Avenue and Division Street.

The eight art installations are strategically placed along the street, between 11th and 36th Avenues, and feature small scale bronze figures installed on large dolomite boulders quarried in the Northwest. The stones are placed near businesses and adjacent to new bioswales. With the multiple locations, the artists hope to encourage pedestrians to take their time to stroll along the street and discover all of the sculptures.

Appropriately titled “This All Happened More or Less,” the bronze characters created by the artists were inspired by their observations of activity along Division. The scale of these bronze figures (much different than the scale usually seen in public art) can draw a viewer in close enough to imagine a story behind each of the figures that vary from active, such as a kid on a skateboard, to inactive, such as waiting for a bus or sitting quietly with a pet dog. The artists have said, “We are merely suggesting stories and we want people to draw their own conclusions, to fill in all of the details, and to follow their imaginations.” 

This is the first public art commission for the team of Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis. 

Crystal Schenk received an MFA from Portland State University in 2007, and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. She is an adjunct professor at Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland State University. Schenk’s artwork has been published in Sculpture and Craft magazines. She was awarded the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award for 2006, and was subsequently selected as the recipient of ISC’s artist in residency program at Art-st-urban in Switzerland. In 2009 Art-st-urban awarded Schenk with the institution’s first Emerging Sculptor Award. Schenk’s work was represented at the Oregon Biennial, Portland 2010 and was recently exhibited at Selection Artfair, Art Basel 2013.

Shelby Davis is a multimedia artist who focuses on sculpture and has a penchant for found materials. His subject matter is derived from the deeply personal, the humorous, or the paradoxical. Davis received his MFA from Portland State University in 2008. He has shown prolifically in Portland, cities all over the southeastern United States and has exhibited in Los Angeles, Tennessee, and in Portland’s Time Based Arts festival as a member of the art group PAINTALLICA!

More information on the artwork can be found at an interactive website, crashstudioart.com, which will be live on Friday, October 24th with a walking map and detailed information about the inspiration and process of the project.