Away we toe!

Its March on the Oregon Coast, and I’m frustrated by this sunny, warm day. Ridiculous, I know. Blasphemous. But in the midst of this lovely spring day I’m selfishly worried that — knowing the life cycle of weather patterns around here — a sunny March 6 will mean a rainy March 15, and March 15 is the day that I need the weather to be excellent. Because March 15 is when I’m launching my Oregon Coast Trail project, “On the Path of Public Art.” I’m really getting excited!

But it’s a nice day all the same, too good to be wasted. So I spent my day touring some of the public art treasures in my own backyard, the Oceanlake district of Lincoln City. I’m learning how to operate the Smooth 4, a combination gimbel and tripod that I’ll be using on my journey. I am weirdly stubborn when it comes to learning new technology (my nickname: The Reluctant Adopter) but I am embracing this gizmo with an open heart. And yes, I do think it is productive to empathize with inanimate objects. 

Some objects, while technically inanimate, are easy to love. Case in point: “Sparky the Wish Guardian” (Heidi Erickson, 2012), who looks over Regatta Park and Devils Lake, just off NE 14th St./West Devils Lake Road here in Lincoln City. Sparky is friendly and open (pun intended), with arms outstretched to the beauty all around. One of my favorite features on this sculpture: the huge, three-toed, galvanized feet! They remind me of the giant marble toes of “The Colossus of Constantine” (300 AD), which is found in pieces in the courtyard of the Musei Capitolini in Rome. I was able to visit those toes in 1990, on a college trip abroad. 

Such is the power of public art. I hugged that foot and my friend took a photo, and 30 years later I connect that photo with a beautiful place, a happy time and a special feeling. I hope that people who visit Regatta Park take pictures in front of Sparky, and that they do the same. 

Those are the kind of thoughts I’m having, as I prepare for “On The Path of Public Art” project, which is set to begin on March 15. Where’s the great public art on the Oregon Coast? Why is it special? How did it come to be? How can we make more in Lincoln City, so that people associate our city with art and sweet memories? Away we toe!