‘Contemplative Place’ art moved to Leach Garden

Find out about this sculpture, uprooted from another outer East Portland park and moved to Leach Botanical Garden – and why this happened

While construction pauses in the Upper Garden at Leach Botanical Garden, some 50 people arrive in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood to welcome a “recycled sculpture” installation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When it was originally unveiled in Ed Benedict Park in 1996, a stone art installation by sculptor Michihiro Kosuge, which he called “Contemplative Place”, was intended to provide a space where 9-1-1 Call Center workers could “decompress and relax”.

Made of Columbia, Canadian, and Camas basalt rock, “Contemplative Place” is a set of carved and shaped stones, among which park visitors could sit and quietly contemplate the relationship between the massive stone blocks, and the points of the compass marked by the tallest stones.

Among the trees are obelisks that mark the western and eastern boundaries of the installation.

However, when Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) installed the Benedict Skateboard Park directly adjacent to that sculpture, many said this led to conditions that worked directly against Kosuge’s original intent.

Although it had been expected that these huge slabs of rock would become a permanent fixture of that park, they disappeared over the summer – and reappeared in Leach Botanical Garden in September.

As artists themselves, John and Lilla Leach would have welcomed the new installation, says Friends of Leach Garden Executive Director David Porter.

“As the major renovation begins at the park, it was a good time to accept this sculpture,” said Friends of Leach Garden Executive Director David Porter at the September 5 dedication.

The idea of moving “Contemplative Space” from Ed Benedict Park was the idea of the Regional Arts & Culture Counsel (RACC),” Porter told East Portland News.

“Here in a wooded grove of our Upper Garden, it’s a sign of how the Garden can not only be the center of activities and education, but also art and beauty,” Porter explained. “It’s part of the transformation of the Garden that’ll make this a totally unique place in Portland; we believe John and Lilla Leach, who both loved art, would be pleased.”

Sculptor Michihiro Kosuge spends a moment with Ed Lockett, the person given the responsibility of relocating his stone installation.

It wasn’t easy to relocate tons of carved rock, remarked the person in charge of the task, Ed Lockett of Capstone Sculptures.

“We carefully lifted them from Ed Benedict Park, and trucked them to the new site, being careful to make it look as if the stone had never been touched,” Lockett said.

Before it the sculpture was reinstalled, reinforced concrete slabs were poured, on which obelisks rest,” he pointed out.

Moving in and among the trees was quite a bit of work, Lockett added. “People with PP&R were here to make sure we didn’t damage any plants while we replaced and oriented then.”

Sculptor Michihiro Kosuge tells a dedication ceremony guest that the upright obelisks add a special energy to the art installation.

The artist said he was pleased with the new location of his sculpture garden. He pointed out how the four large upright obelisks still mark the four corners of the compass.

“This is a quiet place, for contemplation,” Kosuge said. “As a sculptor, I ‘put my heart into stone’; and now, it’s in an ideal setting.”

Its new home is the perfect place for “Contemplative Space”, says RACC Collections Manager Keith Lachowicz.

During the brief dedication ceremony, RACC Collections Manager Keith Lachowicz recalled that the stones in their old location were repeatedly defaced with graffiti, and showed other signs of vandalism.

“The fabulous renovation that’s happening here at Leach Botanical Garden gave us an opportunity to move this installation here – a better location, that better honors the sculptor’s original intent.”

Until construction is completed in mid-summer, 2020, the “Contemplative Space” will be waiting for visitors to return, and newly experience this unique natural artwork.

To see what’s happening in Leach Botanical Garden, CLICK HERE to open their official website.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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