Support Local Journalism!        

Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Everyone is welcome to take a walk on the Trolley Trail and admire the new art at any time before or after the Sept. 12 opening of the Orange Line from Portland to Milwaukie and Oak Grove.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - 'Bower,' Susan Zocala's sculpture, soars over visitors who attended the Trolley Trail art tour on Aug. 7. The piece, festooned with oak leaves, is located at the Southeast Park Street Station in Oak Grove.But the treat for the almost 90 people who showed up for the guided tour on Aug. 7, was the fact that some of the artists were onsite, happy to talk about their inspiration for each piece.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - The female figure in Patrick Gracewood's sculpture, 'To Grandmothers House,' conjures up the vision of a strong woman who supports her community.“We recognized that there was a lot of sadness with the changes and the loss of landscaping [along the Trolley Trail], so we wanted to honor the trees and the feelings of the neighborhood,” said Mary Priester, TriMet public art manager, one of the leaders of the tour.

She went on to say that TriMet developed a program to recruit and commission artists in wood, who were then invited to choose their tree from the ones that had been cut down to make way for the light-rail line.

“They selected their trees, took them away and did their artwork,” she said, adding that the resulting pieces are now located near where the original trees stood, along the Trolley Trail line.

“Bower” and Journey Through Time”

The tour began at the Southeast Park Avenue Station, with Susan Zocala’s “Bower,” a sculpture featuring a canopy of over-sized oak leaves, to honor nearby Oak Grove. Zocala, an artist from Seattle, was not on the tour, but Michelle Traver, public art project manager for TriMet, told tour goers that the artist had responded to the fact that a Nature in the Neighborhood grant had “reinvigorated the riparian corridor. And she heard how much people love living here, so she wanted to show that in a simple and elegant way.”

Oak trees turn up again in Lynn Basa’s glass mosaic columns, “Journey Through Time,” also at the Park Street Station. Basa was not present for the tour, but her columns, featuring various motifs, adorn many of the other station stops.

“To Grandmother’s House”

Patrick Gracewood chose a 75-year-old atlas cedar tree for his carved female figure holding a rabbit; he based the rendering of the woman on a photograph of a friend’s German grandmother, and the rabbit was his own pet, named Rochester.

Gracewood became emotional, telling tour goers that the woman “survived two world wars” and helped hold her community together.

The symbol of an older woman is deliberate he said, adding, “The original Trolley Trail was ridden by children who are now themselves grandparents.”

“Bear Catching Salmon”

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Darren Holcomb, right, tells a friend how artist Toby Johnson flattened the base holding up the bear, but the animal is fully rounded front and back.Toby Johnson was not on the tour, but Priester said he is a respected chainsaw carver, who really knows his craft.

His “Bear Catching Salmon” is a sculptural bench made from a sequoia; it was inspired by native wildlife.


PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Artist Hilary Pfeifer explained that this piece, entitled 'Allogamy,' represents the forms of native seeds, plants and berries found in the area.Hilary Pfeifer acquired a western red cedar and decided to do a human-scale totem, featuring small animal figures.

The title of her piece means “tree of life,” she said, and it is two sided.

“On one side are the wild animals, bears and ducks, and even a black panther, which was rumored to hide in trees. The other side is domestic animals, companion animals, like dogs, cats and chickens,” Pfeifer said.


PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Pasha Stinson, pictured above, and his wife, Cate, created 'Flow' from a giant sequoia tree.The next piece on the tour was a giant, stylized waterwheel, symbolizing the hard work of the early settlers. It was created by Kula Design, the husband-and-wife team of Cate and Pasha Stinson. Pasha Stinson was in attendance that day, and talked about how it really bothered him to see the trees come down, and he commended TriMet for its plan that allowed him to make use of a downed sequoia tree.

“Right downhill on Kellogg Creek there was a waterwheel,” he said, noting that “Flow” represents both nature and industry. He and his wife also wanted to create something stable and something to sit on, he added.


Artist Chris Papa was not able to be there the day of the tour, but Priester said the piece is the “most abstract and conceptual” of all the art on the trail. “Sewn” consists of individual cedar panels that create a united structure.

Papa used “a quilt as a metaphor for the way a community comes together,” Priester said.

“One Tree Trestle

In this piece, a single tree is repurposed into a trestle, serving as record of nature’s cycle of growth and change.

It was critical to keep the roots with the tree, noted artist Lee Imonen, because the piece portrays the idea of the roots being here in the community.

“One Tree Trestle” was created using one entire Douglas fir tree, and conveys “the idea of a bridge into the future. New things are coming in; where do we go from here?”

Imonen thanked TriMet and the community for “encouraging this to happen.”

Flow Zone”

Although Oakland, Calif., residents Andre Caradec and Thom Faulders were unable to attend the tour, Traver described their whimsical piece as “an array of reflecting botts,” that appears to flow along the underside of the Kellogg Light Rail Bridge, where it crosses over the Trolley Trail.

There are 2,000 of the pieces that were inspired by birds, she said, adding, “We worked with ODOT to make sure that the reflections will not be in motorists’ eyes


As the group circled back to the Southeast Park Avenue Station, Pfeifer discussed her piece, “Allogamy.” Pfeifer is the only artist with two pieces on the Trolley Trail, and this, her second, is at the station park & ride.

This piece, carved from the same western red cedar she used for her previous sculpture, features carved and stacked geometric forms that are reminiscent of native seeds, nuts and berries.

Earlier in the year Pfeifer collaborated with students at New Urban High School in Oak Grove on a landscaping project, and she also asked them for ideas for this sculpture.

“They were fun to work with; the sentiment is there of community,” she said.

“Allogamy stands for cross pollination in plants, and the piece has the schematics of plants and patterns of plants, like ferns and berries that you find in the landscape,” Pfeifer added.

Go to top
JSN Time 2 is designed by | powered by JSN Sun Framework