Pole Art 3 part 2: Brightening Up the Days of Passersby


I’m feeling the pressure of being the sole arbiter of Pole Art.** It’s a challenge. With this power comes great responsibility that I can’t really handle. I can breathe easier by admitting that all I want to do is share Portland’s Pole Art with the world. No pressure there. I hope it catches on because I long for the day I can wander from pole to pole to see various manifestations of Pole decor that have sprung up from this craze. Utility poles are everywhere. It could take a while. Until then let’s enjoy the Pole Art we have.

Pole of Cards

Right at the entrance of Pittman Addition HydroPark is a pole covered in playing cards. This was the case this summer anyway as it’s hard to tell how many card games have since broken out in the park. The cards may have been pilfered by now. The immediate reaction may be how much of an artistic statement this is. People might be thinking it’s just cards attached to a pole. What the concept lacks in artistic merit it makes up for in fun and spectacle.

A pole covered in cards takes effort, vision and at least a couple of decks of cards. There isn’t a casino in the Portland area so this Pole Art feels out of place but it doesn’t have an inferiority complex about being artsy. Remember, too, Pole Art is a broad category. If you read last week’s post you know that anything stuck to a pole makes Pole Art.

Oceanic Swirl

A swirling seascape of fish, colorful bubbles and kelp slithering up this pole in the Sunnyside neighborhood has the feel of a hippyish, paisley, old tie design. A little paint creates Pole Art bursting with life, vibrancy and color on an otherwise baron utility pole. I appreciate the efforts to jazz up this neighborhood.

Busy Squirrels

This pole was created from what looks like leftover decorations from a nearby yard covered with knickknacks and bird baths in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. The tastefully arranged squirrels appear to scamper up the pole. Life often imitates this piece of Pole Art, at least in my neighborhood where real squirrels run rampant up undecorated poles.

Fast Art

The fast food art of an obvious fast food enthusiast appears as graffiti on traffic signs around town. It caught my eye on this pole near the Portland Meadows horse track. What looks like a simple chalk drawing applied to a utility pole creates another example of, you guessed it, Pole Art. Are these images modern hieroglyphics, subliminal advertising, the eye-catching subject matter of unwarranted public art, all, or none of the above? Consider yourself lucky no multiple choice test is involved at the end of this Pole Art blog post.

Pole Art, Art


 photo by Graham Marks

In a Pole Art overview we must also consider the art that’s inspired by utility poles. This is an example of a photograph that captures, in specific detail, what utility poles endure through the application of multiple heavy-duty staples and nails for posters and flyers. This frame freezes in time the world-weary, battle-scarred nature of the life of a North Lombard Avenue utility pole.

Found Art Pole Art Found

 photo by April Stock

In response to seeing a Facebook posting about last week’s Pole Art piece, April asked if I had seen this Pole Art. It was new to me. Initially I thought it was fantastic. Well, it is, but I had been under the impression that it was a piece of original art attached to the pole. A closer look revealed that it to be more of a found art conglomeration. It’s still striking  and skillfully arranged. Discussion followed about where this Pole Art was located. I feel it’s important to let any possible Pole Art aficionados know in case they want an up close and personal viewing. This art was spotted last spring so at first the recollections were spotty. It was narrowed down to Butterfly Park before iPhone technology saved the day offering the more specific location of SW Miles Place.

A License to Art

In case anyone is wondering what to do with the license plates that pile up in the garage and seem like souvenirs from all the places you’ve lived but are really a heap of colorful metal gathering dust, this example of Pole Art in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood might be the answer. It’s fun to look at adding color, geographical information and various letters and numbers to otherwise drab surroundings.

Keep Smiling

Here are two examples of a design that can be found all over town. It’s not only seen as Pole Art but on stickers too. In faces and flowers we see the wide open third eye keeping watch for the rest of a face reflecting total bliss. These decorations were found in the North Williams corridor and they seem to be offering something in the way of brightening up the days of passersby.


**If you have a look at this Pittsburgh Orbit post you’ll see someone else is hot on the trail of Pole Art in a specific way. I’m sure someday there will be a meeting of the minds concerning the significance of all of this Pole Art.

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