Saturday, June 16, 2012

Keller Fountain

Biked downtown this morning to join the Urban Sketchers group. We met up at a cafe, talked travel and showed off new pens, then headed out into the city to draw.

Deb lead us to the Ira Keller Fountain--a spot that I had never been to, and it positively blew my mind!

The giant monolithic slabs of concrete had, on one hand, a strong feel of late 1960's architecture. But on the other hand, though clearly a man-made structure, it also worked as an astoundingly convincing representation of a roaring waterfall out in nature. The park ends up being this amazing maze of slabs and cliffs and water, which were almost as fun to explore as genuine boulder-hopping in the wilderness.

And then, there's the color. Yes, we should be seeing boring gray concrete here, but instead the monolithic masses are an amazing rusty orange color. I can only presume this is thanks to the work of algae and other critters--all the water-free bits of concrete still are gray around the park. It's pretty astounding to see. Not to mention noise and the movement...And oh man, water falls in so many ways, in so many patterns, it was fascinating and quite difficult to try to draw all the textures and light effects.

But when I had done as much as I could with the cascade, I rotated slightly to the right and was delighted in a totally different way by the interaction of the huge rectangular concrete "lily pads" that are perched low over the shallow and still parts of the water feature. Loved the contrast of the right angles against the sinuous fractal of the pine tree branches especially.

Again, the water color is astonishing and weird here. We're seeing the colors of the concrete and its funky imbedded cobblestones clearly through the clear, shallow pool. It felt so delightfully rebellious to be painting water with so much yellow ochre! 

Very satisfied with this adventure, thanks to Deb for organizing it. (And that's Scavenger Hunt Item #7, Any Fountain.)


  1. I really like your fountain drawings and the narrative that goes with them. I never thought about the different cement colors before. Your fountains capture the range from the rumbling falls to the quiet of the pools, which have a serene feel. Very nice!
    (Btw, you're right about the Portland Oregon sign by the Burnside Bridge. Can't believe how often I pass this and didn't realize what it says now. I think it should count:)

    1. Just found a history of the "White Stag" sign, and it has said quite a few things over the years that it has been up! Didn't start reading "Portland, Oregon" until 2010, as it turns out. So it makes sense that newcomers like me would think of it that way, since it said "Made in Oregon" from 1997 until just recently. Link:

      Glad I was able to catch both the dynamic and the peaceful elements of the fountain. Such a lovely spot!

  2. You have done justice to Halprin's design intent. Very nice!