As I was chowing down on chicken tacos from La Jarochita's cart on the corner of SW 5th and Oak, I spent the entire duration of my short meal trying to figure out what the hell this is:


It looked to me like a piece of transit mall furniture, like the $2000 brushed-steel trashcans and the new bus stops. Maybe it's some kind of colorful barrier to keep lunchers from sitting on the curb? Maybe it's a really inefficient bike rack or a place to tie your dog?

Make your guesses. The real answer, according to TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch, is below the cut.

It's art! Part of the one percent for art that TriMet sets aside from its current project budgets.

It's funny to say this, but the piece looks too utilitarian to be art. I'm a big fan of beautifully designed useful objects (like architectural spoons or handbuilt bikes) but this does not strike me as an artistically-designed object. The aesthetics of it seem like an afterthought—like they needed something to put in the clear middle space and decided, "Hey, why not some colorful cut outs of people?" It looks as though it was built for some function and then some art was sort of slapped on afterwards, like the "contemporary gateways" on the current CRC bridge design.

But anyway, uh, don't tie your dog to it.