Thursday, June 11, 2009

Art along the Wilamette -- the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade

When I did the NAMI walk for mental health, I walked this paved trail along the Wilamette for the first time. It was so enjoyable that I learned how to use the Portland bus system and Max (light rail) in order to return there to walk for my own enjoyment again. I know it won't be the last time. This represents some of the art I saw on the way. . . I included a little history about their former mayor whose statue is the subject of one of my photos. CLICK on photos to see detail.

In June 2003, a statue of Katz was unveiled on the Eastbank Esplanade. In November 2004, the bicycle and pedestrian trail was officially renamed the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade in honor of the former mayor. From Wikipedia:
"In 1972, Vera Katz was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat representing Portland and Multnomah County for the 1973 session. She won re-election to additional two-year terms through 1990. In 1985, she became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Oregon House, replacing Grattan Kerans. While in the Oregon House, she sponsored the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, a landmark school reform bill. She also helped pass measures on gun control as well as legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender in places of public accommodation and credit. Katz was the first person in Oregon history to hold the position of Speaker for three straight sessions.

In 1992, Katz ran for mayor of Portland, promoting her candidacy by using public transportation to commute to her office. As of March 2000, Katz had never obtained a valid Oregon driver's license. Running against then city commissioner Earl Blumenauer, she campaigned on a platform that included reducing crime rates. She won the election and served from January 1993 until January 2005, winning re-election in 1996 and 2000. During her first term, Mayor Katz endorsed The Yellow Bike Project which drew national attention to Portland's artistic & bike-friendly civic engagement culture. In 2004, she did not stand for re-election and Tom Potter was elected as mayor in November 2004, assuming office in January 2005. During her administration, Katz pursued a policy of revitalization of the city's neighborhoods. Katz fought off the early stages of breast cancer in early 2000, with surgery and radiation treatment. Katz was subsequently diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer, adenosarcoma, in June 2004, following a routine hysterectomy.

Vera Katz was born on August 3, 1933 as Vera Pistrak in Düsseldorf, Germany. Her parents had fled Moscow, Russia, after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, settling in Germany. As Jewish Mensheviks, the family fled for France when Vera was 2 months old as Adolf Hitler and the anti-semitic Nazis rose to power in Germany.Once World War II began and Hitler invaded France, the family of four fled over the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain on foot. After a time the family was able to immigrate to the United States and settled in New York City.Vera's parents would divorce when she was 12.

She received a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York, in 1955 and a Master of Arts in 1957. Vera would work as a camp counselor in upstate New York where she met her future husband, a waiter. They moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1962 after selecting Portland from a list that included Seattle, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Vera and her husband Mel, an artist, had decided to leave New York, with Vera's image of longtime U.S. Senator Wayne Morse helping to decide the matter. She would give birth to a son after they moved, Jesse. He went on to graduate from Lincoln High School in 1981 and became a journalist in Los Angeles; his memoir, The Opposite Field, is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

Katz became involved in politics in the late 1960s while working on the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy had antagonized many in Portland through his aggressive pursuit of local corruption as United States Attorney General. Katz moved on to support the nationwide grape boycott organized in the late 1960s by Cesar Chavez to support migrant agricultural workers. She then protested and picketed the City Club of Portland over their male only membership requirement in the early 1970s, leading to the end of the practice by the private club."


RuneE said...

That was a fine statue of what must have been a very upstanding woman and worthy of all respect.

And it was also a kind of bench ;-)

Malyss said...

What an interesting post! so much to discover. I like very much the statue of the lady. What a destiny and full life for a woman!

PS: I began to read your texts. Your Cynthia seems to be strangely like you, does not she?...Ü

SandyCarlson said...

OK. She rocks in every way.

Cindi said...

What a special woman! I love the statue of her sitting on the bench. That says a lot about her, being among the people, like when she rode the public bus to work each day.

About Me

My photo
WELCOME to my blog. I hope you will return often.

I am on my third digital camera, all Olympus. I enjoy using it and sharing my photos. I also enjoy writing. I hope to share a little of each on this blog. My main blog is Postcards From the Northwest.

Kerri and I will continue to add benches to "For the Love of Benches Continued . . . " blog also. It is good to continue to share with her!

Continuation of the Kiggins House Re-model photos were lost when my computer crashed.

The latest city project, TURTLE PLACE, will unfold here as I have time to add photos. It is complete and maybe I can find enough photos someday to show you the final results. Next project after the two I am working on now. . .

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