Allow Me (Portland, Oregon)

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Allow Me
Umbrella Man
Allow Me, Pioneer Courthouse Square.jpg
Allow Me and (inset) the descriptive plaque mounted in the brickwork of Portland, Oregon's Pioneer Courthouse Square
ArtistJohn Seward Johnson II
Year1983 (1983)
TypeBronze sculpture
MaterialBronze, aluminum, stainless steel
Dimensions210 cm × 110 cm × 130 cm (82 in × 45 in × 50 in)
LocationPortland, Oregon
Coordinates45°31′07″N 122°40′46″W / 45.518685°N 122.679453°W / 45.518685; -122.679453Coordinates: 45°31′07″N 122°40′46″W / 45.518685°N 122.679453°W / 45.518685; -122.679453
OwnerCity of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council
 
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Allow Me
Umbrella Man
Allow Me, Pioneer Courthouse Square.jpg
Allow Me and (inset) the descriptive plaque mounted in the brickwork of Portland, Oregon's Pioneer Courthouse Square
ArtistJohn Seward Johnson II
Year1983 (1983)
TypeBronze sculpture
MaterialBronze, aluminum, stainless steel
Dimensions210 cm × 110 cm × 130 cm (82 in × 45 in × 50 in)
LocationPortland, Oregon
Coordinates45°31′07″N 122°40′46″W / 45.518685°N 122.679453°W / 45.518685; -122.679453Coordinates: 45°31′07″N 122°40′46″W / 45.518685°N 122.679453°W / 45.518685; -122.679453
OwnerCity of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council

Allow Me, also known as Umbrella Man,[1] is an iconic 1983 bronze sculpture by John Seward Johnson II, located in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, United States. The sculpture, one of seven Allow Me casts, was donated anonymously to the City of Portland in 1984 for display in the Square. It depicts a life-sized man dressed in a business suit, hailing a cab and holding an umbrella. Constructed from bronze, aluminum and stainless steel, the sculpture stands six feet, ten inches tall and weighs 460 pounds. The sculpture is one of many works of art generated by the city's Percent for Art program, and is considered part of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

After ten years, in 1995, the sculpture was removed from its pedestal and transferred to California for its first major restoration. To maintain its shine, Allow Me receives cold wax coatings every year. It is a popular tourist attraction and local landmark which serves as a reference point for gatherings, or political rallies. Allow Me has received a positive reception and is renowned for its realistic appearance; the 'Umbrella Man' has been called the "most photographed man in Portland", and serves as a symbol of the city and its residents.

Description and history[edit]

Main article: Allow Me

The Portland sculpture is one of seven casts of John Seward Johnson II's Allow Me. It was designed and completed by Johnson in 1983 and is constructed from bronze, aluminum and stainless steel. In 1984, the sculpture was donated anonymously, but in the name of Harry H. Schwartz, to the City of Portland and dedicated for display at Pioneer Courthouse Square.[2] This square is one of the most popular and often visited squares in the state of Oregon. In 2004 the square was named the fourth best public square in the world by New York's Project for Public Spaces.[3] Allow Me is situated on the south side of the Square just above the amphitheatre and is seen as welcoming visitors there. The sculpture depicts a life-sized man dressed in a business suit, "hurrying across the square" and hailing a cab.[4][5][6] He holds an umbrella,[7] which some people have interpreted as an offering.[8][9] He wears a watch and a rhubarb-colored tie; his index finger points towards the Meier & Frank Building, adjacent to the Square.[10][11] Allow Me measures 82" x 45" x 50" and weighs 460 pounds.[12][13] The sculpture is part of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council.[2] It is one of many works of art generated by Portland's Percent for Art program.[14]

Allow Me dressed in winter clothing in December 2013

In July 1995, the sculpture was removed from its pedestal and shipped to Stellar Artworks in Van Nuys, California for cleaning and restoration. It received a glassbead peening to remove the effects of birds, human hands, pollution and precipitation, plus a coat of incralac, a lacquer-based acrylic resin coating.[12] The restoration was funded by an anonymous donor and involved Art Work Fine Art Services, Industrial Craters & Packers, O'Neill Transfer Co., Smith Masonry Contractors and the Regional Arts & Culture Council.[12] This marked the sculpture's first restoration since 1985.[15] Allow Me receives cold wax coatings each year to maintain its shine.[12]

Tourists often take pictures next to the realistic-looking "bronze man".[16] The sculpture has also been used as a reference point for gatherings.[17][18] There have been instances when the sculpture was used to make a statement or act as a prop. In 2011, Occupy Portland demonstrators outfitted Allow Me with a peace sign, a Guy Fawkes mask and a "We are the 99%" sign.[19]

Reception[edit]

The Architecture Foundation of Oregon called the sculpture a "popular icon" for Portland.[9] 'cultureNOW' suggested that the depicted subject could be the "most photographed man in Portland"; the project described Allow Me as one of the "most recognized and beloved" sculptures in Portland, serving as a symbol of the city for both residents and tourists.[2] Elaine S. Friedman, contributor to The Oregon Encyclopedia, wrote that Allow Me mimics Portland's pedestrians.[5] In its guide of Portland's public art and architecture, Moon Publications described the sculpture as being "so realistic that you'll look twice".[20][21] Another description by Portland Community College asserted that the work is so lifelike that people have attempted to initiate conversation with the 'Umbrella Man'.[22] Spencer Heinz of The Oregonian wrote that the sculpture "serves for some as a symbol of the civility that frames the city's incomplete image of itself."[10]

In 2011, Sunday Parkways presented spoke cards to donors depicting the sculpture, among four additional cards showing other iconic images of the city.[23] In Willamette Week's annual "Best of Portland" feature for 2011, the "Best Portland Tattoo" award went to one resident whose Portland-themed sleeve tattoo included Allow Me, among its other landmarks.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pioneer Courthouse Square: Portland, Oregon". American Planning Association. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Allow Me, 1983". cultureNOW. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Pioneer Courthouse Square: The Heart of Downtown Since 1984" (PDF). Pioneer Courthouse Square. 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Public Space, Public Transport Gel in Portland's Pioneer Square". Project for Public Spaces. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Friedman, Elaine S. "Pioneer Courthouse Square". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ McInerny, Vivian (April 1990). "A Passion of the People: Portland's cultural scene". The Rotarian (Rotary International) 156 (4): 33. ISSN 0035-838X. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Pioneer Courthouse Square". Portland Parks & Recreation. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ Mortenson, Eric (October 11, 2008). "Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square named a top U.S. public space". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Architecture in Oregon: Treasures: Pioneer Courthouse Square". Architecture Foundation of Oregon. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Heinz, Spencer (September 5, 2004). "Life in the Living Room". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  11. ^ Burningham, Lucy (December 31, 2007). "The Oregon Philanthropy Awards". Oregon Business. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Hicks, Bob (July 12, 1995). "Bronze Umbrella Man Flees Rain to Buff Up in the California Sun". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  13. ^ "Public Art Search: Allow Me". Regional Arts & Culture Council. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Jackson, Reed (July 20, 2012). "What Portland gets from its Percent for Art program". Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Oregon: Dolan Company). Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Franzen, Robin (July 5, 1995). "Allow Him a Break". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). p. B01. ISSN 8750-1317. 
  16. ^ Asbury, Sherry (February 12, 2007). "Come to Portland's Living Room". Yahoo! Voices. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  17. ^ Howd, Jason (May 10, 2008). "S for Scientology: Masked Protesters at Portland Church of Scientology". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ Saker, Anne (October 21, 2011). "In downtown Portland, Beavers band meets Occupy Portland; everyone plays nice, especially the tubas". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  19. ^ Haberman, Margaret (October 6, 2011). "Occupy Portland hits town with cast of thousands for massive, peaceful demonstration". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ Jewell, Judy; McRae, W. C. (March 15, 2011). "Portland Public Art". Moon Oregon (Avalon Travel). p. 40. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  21. ^ Jewell, Judy; McRae, W. C. "Portland Public Art and Architecture". Moon Oregon (8 ed.). Moon Publications. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  22. ^ Moser, Sue (November 15, 2005). "Portland Sculptures". Portland Community College. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  23. ^ Navas, Melissa (June 22, 2011). "Sunday Parkways rolls into North Portland with longer course, dancing and activities". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Best of Portland 2011: Best Sights & Sounds". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). July 27, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]