Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More Portland, Before Rome

 In preparation for my two weeks in Rome, I've begun reading a book I picked up at the marvelous Powell's Books in Portland (in case you're interested in what else I've been reading lately, I've added a few posts on January reading over here). In Rome from the Ground up, James H.S. McGregor  rehearses the three essentials that early Roman architect Vitruvius insisted on for Roman building. Bridges and buildings and other architectural structures must manifest firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, or, as McGregor translates these terms, stability and endurance, usefulness, and beauty of materials and proportion. It pleases me to revisit, through photos, the buildings I admired in Portland and evaluate them according to a book on Rome (to which I'm flying tomorrow) that I bought in the so much younger northern Oregon city.

If you look back at my last two posts, I hope you'll agree with me that the buildings I've photographed show their stability and their usefulness while manifesting a simple beauty. I haven't shown you much of the ornamentation that can be found there, but I did take a few pictures of the cast-iron ornamentation that fronts the Sinnott Building, constructed in 1883 at the peak of the trend of decorating facades with cast iron.

Only several blocks away, this more contemporary use of metal to decorate a building's facade swims into view. . . .
and since this fishy façade has taken us back to Nature, let's have another look at the botanically inspired Nepenthes sculptures I introduced in the last two posts. . .

Such sumptuous curves and colours, don't you agree?

I'm so wishing, now, that I'd found the fourth, especially as I review the strikingly different, yet equally strong, graphic surfaces on the three I did see. These stripes!
The way the pitcher's mouth kisses this building . . .
The rather baroque (not in period, obviously, but in richness of ornamentation) intersection of decorative detail between the different centuries these adjoining structures represent.
I mean, swoon! It's not Bernini, which I'll be swooning over in a few days, but let no one say that contemporary sculpture can't be sensuous, voluptuous, absolutely gorgeous as well.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd better go review my packing. I hadn't planned to post on what I'm bringing for my two-week stay in Rome, but it will all fit in my carry-on case quite easily. In fact, I found that my week in Portland reminded me how happily I could dress with only a few simple favourites, and I edited my capsule even more tightly on return. Let me know if you're really curious, and I'll try to include a list. . . .

And next time we chat, I'll be in the Eternal City -- I hope you'll keep me company!

18 comments:

  1. Bon voyage!! You're going to have such a wonderful time!

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  2. Love those sculptures. Nothing like that in my little island! Bet you are looking forward to all the fabulous sculptures in Rome. Have a good journey. Barbara

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  3. Voluptuous is a wonderful way to describe the pitcher plant sculptures.
    Enjoy all that Rome has to offer you during your two-week visit. Bon voyage.

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  4. Lucky you - I share your love for these Nepenthes and look forward to your Roam impressions. Have a nice trip, it’s a good time of the year to fly in not-so-full planes :)

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  5. I have missed a lot!.....two weeks in Rome! Buon viaggio!

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  6. Have a nice journey and wonderful time in Rome with your family!
    Dottoressa

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  7. Powells Books! We still have their apron and a very worn tshirt which reminds my bibliophile other half of his happy hours there when we visited Portland in the 80s. I think it's on his top ten bookshops worldwide - and a lot of hours have gone into that particular bit of research! Usually while I'm in a gallery or clothes shop. Have fun in Rome looking forward to your posts from there, my guilty secret is that I lived in Venice as a student and never got my act together to go further south than Florence.....

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    1. It's a wonderful store -- so glad your husband got a chance to visit it. I'd be curious to know what other stores, where, made it to his list...
      I can absolutely relate to your guilty secret. In some ways, I think it's better to know one place really well rather than to spend your precious time there going elsewhere. But still, missing Rome . . . ;-)

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  8. I like street architecture - we do not look up enough, in my opinion.

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    1. This is true, Annie. Nor down enough either, really . . . Too much of the straight ahead...

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  9. Fun sculptures. Sadly, in my city they would probably be disfigured with mindless scrawls of graffiti.
    What a treat to visit Rome while family are living there, to feel a guest not just a tourist.
    Like you, my goals in packing for travel are to have the minimum number of clothes, to be both comfortable AND stylish, so am always interested in your choices.
    Lilibet

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    1. Perhaps I'll try for a recap of the capsule wardrobe when I get back. Seem to be short of time at the moment.

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  10. I'd love to have that silhouette ... like Mae West at her best .
    Bon voyage !

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  11. As a Portland native whose favorite city is Rome, I am thoroughly enjoying your posts. I notice those sculptures often but rarely see them with fresh eyes. I am especially devouring the architectural comparisons with Rome. Buon viaggio!

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    1. It surprised me, Stella, to find points of comparison with Rome, and maybe I'm stretching the point because of my own itinerary, but it was fun looking at Portland through that lens and vice versa.

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  12. Coming late to this, but I wanted to say thank you for those images of the sculptures. You've opened my eyes to the interplay between the art and its surrounding urban environment in a way that I hadn't appreciated before.

    And that Vitruvius quote -- seems he anticipated William Morris by quite a few centuries, no?

    Finally, I am always curious about travel wardrobes, if you can tear yourself away from your loves long enough to post yours!

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    1. What a lovely thing to say, Sarah. You're welcome and thank you!
      Absolutely, William Morris was just plagiarising Vitruvius ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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