Downtown Portland is filled with public art, including sculptures, fountains, murals, paintings, photography, and other public expressions of creativity. The Regional Arts and Culture Council offers a free Public Art Walking Tour Map, available from Public Art Gallery on the second floor of the Portland Building (1120 SW 5th Ave., 503/823-5111).
The Public Art Gallery is an excellent place to start your tour as it displays a number of paintings and photographs by top regional artists, all part of the city’s collection of art. There’s more of the city’s public art collection on display in City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave.), the Justice Center (1120 SW 3rd Ave.), and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (1111 SW Broadway).
For outdoor sculpture and installations, check out the following areas: If you start your public art tour at the Portland Building, you can’t miss Portlandia, the enormous hammered-copper statue that presides over the main entrance. The South Park Blocks have a number of public statues, including an equestrian bronze of Teddy Roosevelt as a Rough Rider, a brooding statue of Abraham Lincoln, and Rebecca at the Well (also called the Shemanski Fountain), a 1920s gift to the city from a Polish immigrant that depicts the biblical Rebecca fetching water.
Best of Portland Art
The following is excerpted from Holyanna McCollum’s recently released second edition of Moon Portland.
This monthly art walk in the Pearl District is a great opportunity to wander from gallery to gallery without feeling the pressure to buy something.
Northwest Park Blocks, between W. Burnside and NW Glisan at NW 8th Ave.
Rounding out a Portland summer filled with as much inspiration and entertainment as can be packed into the warm months, Art in the Pearl is a lovely gathering of artists, entertainers, and art lovers in the northwest Park Blocks on Labor Day weekend. —p.127, Festivals and Events, Moon Portland
Walk through the large wooden doors of this gallery and you will see some real eye candy. This gallery, which focuses on international artists in the field of kiln-formed glass, is filled with colorful, unique pieces.
300 NW 13th Ave., 503/227-0222
HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or by appointment
Bullseye Glass Company has been a maker of colored glass for art and architecture since 1974, and was the first company in the world to formulate and manufacture glass that is factorytested for fusing compatibility. Chances are, if you know of an artist who works with glass, some of his or her materials come from Bullseye. —p.118, Arts & Leisure, Moon Portland
This enormous import store just screams to be photographed. In every nook, you will find treasures, trinkets, fabrics, and art in a bold array of colors.
380 NW 13th Ave., 503/209-8349
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
A longtime purveyor of imported artifacts and antiques, Cargo is a veritable treasure trove of trinkets, oddities, jewelry, furniture, decor, and more. The Pearl District warehouse is just a few shouting vendors away from being an Asian street market, with baubles and beads adorning statues, colorful displays, and teak wood furniture stacked high. —p.165, Gifts and Home, Moon Portland
This museum is an awesome celebration of all things handmade. It is the sort of art you can touch, hold, and purchase. Explore both floors and then just try to suppress the desire to make art out of household objects.
724 NW Davis St., 503/223-2654
HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–6 p.m., first Thurs. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
COST: $4 adults, $3 seniors and students, free for children under 13
Founded in 1937, the Museum of Contemporary Craft has long been dedicated to celebrating and showcasing excellence and innovation in craft from the early 20th century to the present. The museum takes a more active approach to its subject than a traditional gallery often does, pointing out that “craft is engaged as a verb as well as a noun.” —p.115, The Arts, Moon Portland
There’s a lot to see here, so take your time exploring the 240,000 square feet of art, sculpture, and exhibits that range from European Impressionism to contemporary pieces.
1219 SW Park Ave., 503/226-2811
HOURS : Tues.–Wed. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs.–Fri. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.
COST : $15 adults, $12 seniors and students (with ID), free for children under 18
The Portland Art Museum (PAM) was founded in 1892, which happens to make it the oldest art museum on the West Coast and seventh oldest in the United States. At 240,000 square feet, it is also one of the 25 largest art museums in the United States. —p.117, The Arts, Moon Portland
This store is devoted to American crafts like colorful art glass, gorgeous ceramics, jewelry, artisan furniture, and sculptural works. It’s a great place to simply explore or purchase unique gifts, as everything is handcrafted and beautiful.
901 SW Yamhill St., 503/223-9510
HOURS: Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Part gallery and part retail shop, the Real Mother Goose has been a longtime staple in downtown Portland. Whether you are just beginning to understand that a Gustav Klimt poster tacked to your wall with pushpins does not qualify as decorating or you are a serious collector, Real Mother Goose has pretty, distinctive elements in prices that range from $15 to several thousands of dollars. —p.167, Shops, Moon Portland
If walking into this store—chock-full of locally made jewelry, art, and accessories— doesn’t inspire you to create, it will at least inspire you to up the ante on your style.
811 E. Burnside St., 503/231-7336
Walk into Redux and you are likely to feel like you’ve just stepped into a candy dish. From every wall and hook hang some of the most fascinating pieces, many of which were repurposed from other items like typewriters, PBR cans, or bicycle chains. Owner Tamara Goldsmith stocks jewelry designed by many local folks and has artwork on display by great local artists. —p.148, Accessories and Jewelry, Moon Portland