Activation: Congress Square Park

Coming soon: Bench Lunch + Dinner + A Show
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  May 9, 2014


ON THE BENCH Michael Clyde Johnson's cedar bench for Congress Square Park, commissioned by
SPACE Gallery and built in collaboration with LearningWorks.

If you haven’t already, you may notic e that Congress Square Park has a new vibe this spring. The Small Axe Truck is offering lunch there on weekdays between 11:30-2:30, and dinner on Wednesday-Friday evenings from 5:30-8 pm. A 20-foot-by-20-foot cedar bench by artist and sculptor Michael Clyde Johnson has been built in the middle of the space, providing a focal point as well as a spot to sit, lounge, and eat. Café tables and chairs are coming soon. And the Friends of Congress Square Park and SPACE Gallery have teamed up to present a series of public events in the plaza over the course of the summer, including dance and music performances and community gatherings.

“One thing we’ve been harping on all along,” says Frank Turek, of Friends of Congress Square Park, “is that this is a really important public performance space.” He’s excited to bring more people into the park, the fate of which has sparked controversy in Portland over the past year.

On June 10, Portlanders will vote on a citizen initiative that would amend the city land bank ordinance by adding 35 properties to the land bank (including Congress Square Park) and requiring either eight councilors to approve sales of those parcels or a public referendum if at least six councilors approve. Last year, the city council voted to sell a large chunk of Congress Square Park for $542,000 to a private hotel developer to allow construction of a hotel events room. If the initiative is approved, the Congress Square sale would go to referendum.

Nat May, executive director of SPACE Gallery (which commissioned the 20x20 bench), agrees that programming in Congress Square will “activate” the park in a way that hasn’t been seen in some time.

The calendar of events is still being finalized. Check or for updates.

| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE  |  July 24, 2014
    When three theater companies, all within a one-hour drive of Portland, choose to present the same Shakespeare play on overlapping dates, you have to wonder what about that particular show resonates with this particular moment.
  •   NUMBER CRUNCHERS  |  July 23, 2014
    Maybe instead of devoting still-more resources to food reviews, Maine’s leading news organizations should spend money on keeping better tabs on Augusta.
    Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters.
    Former Mainer Shanna McNair started The New Guard, an independent, multi-genre literary review, in order to exalt the writer, no matter if that writer was well-established or just starting out.
  •   NO TAR SANDS  |  July 10, 2014
    “People’s feelings are clear...they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capitol of the United States."

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON