In 2014, I was commissioned to make two sculptures for the Portland-Milwaukie Max Line using cedar trees felled to make way for the new light rail and parking garage. 

Allogamy
(above)

Carved Red Western Cedar
height: 7' width: 3' depth: 18"
Located on west side of Park Avenue Parking Garage, Oak Grove, Oregon.

Allogamy consists of eleven stacked geometric forms reminiscent of seeds, nuts and berries found in the area from long before humans started settling here, and reintroduced in the landscape designed to surround it. It was carved from a single Western Red Cedar that once stood 100 feet from the sculpture site.

The seed forms are intentionally blockish, so that they act as architectural components stacked together to create a tower-like structure. It alludes to the memory of the Fischer Pottery, which was once a popular stop along the Trolley Trail. Fischer was a historic pottery and manufactory that produced brick and tile made from local clays from the 1880s through the early 20th century. 

During the early design stages of this piece, I was a guest instructor at New Urban High school in Oak Grove. I titled this piece Allogamy, a scientific term used to describe the concept of cross-fertilization of species, in honor of the inspiring minds of the Youth Take Action class. 

Phylogeny

(above)
Height: 7' diameter: 18"
Carved Red Western Cedar, paint.
Located at south end of Trolley Trail, Milwaukie, OR.

Phylogeny is a 6' high totem carved to honor the animals who have inhabited this region longer than any human, building or road. 

The south facing side includes animals who were native to the region. At the base is a grizzly bear holding a hatchet. The grizzly is a species that was once native to this region, but has not been sighted in Oregon since the early 20th century. Above the bear is a black panther, an animal that was rumored to be living in this part of the Willamette Valley at the time of the early pioneers. It was later discovered that this rumor was spread in order to keep people inside their houses at night. The panther holds a potato masher, a cooking tool that a pioneer woman may have also found useful in the event she needed to protect herself from an imaginary panther. At the very top of this side is a duck with a grain millstone motif carved into its belly. The duck sits on a brick, symbolic of the Fischer Pottery facility that produced building materials important to early development of this area. 

The north facing side honors animals who have been companions from the days of the earliest human settlers through the present day, and will do so as this valley continues to evolve. At the bottom is a dog holding a hammer. On its head sits a cat with a rolling pin in its claws. At the very top is a chicken with a sawblade motif carved into its belly. Observant eyes may spot the subtle chicken footprint on the side of the brick, something one might also spot in some of Milwaukie's oldest buildings. 

I titled this piece Phylogeny, a scientific term used to describe the concept of a “Tree of Life,” or the idea that plants or animals of different species descend from common ancestors.

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© 2020 by Hilary Pfeifer. 

Portland, Oregon, USA