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Utility poles, usually the venue for illegally posted notices, can also be a platform for informally created art

RITA A. LEONARD - This Car Pole street-art installation is situated high on a utility pole at 3377 S.E. Roswell Street, in the Ardenwald neighborhood just east of McLoughlin Boulevard and the MAX Tacoma Street Station. Folks in the Ardenwald neighborhood – which is partly in Portland, and partly in the City of Milwaukie – have been enjoying an unusual new "car pole" landmark on S.E. Roswell Street.

Set up about fifteen feet upon a utility pole, someone – probably without official approval from the utility company that owns it – has fastened a cluster of nearly 70 colorful Matchbox Cars and Trucks over the past couple of years.

THE BEE dispels the mystery. That someone is Jeff Crowther, who lives at 3377 S.E. Roswell – right across the street. "I like seeing the smiles it brings when someone notices it," he says.

"I used to work in Amarillo, Texas. A couple of brothers there developed a roadside attraction in 1974 called 'The Cadillac Ranch'. They set up a line of ten vintage Cadillacs, half-buried at an angle, nose-down in a wheat field. In 1997 the installation was moved to a cow pasture along Interstate 40. Thousands of people have seen it, and its history can be read on Wikipedia. I thought it would be fun to have something like that here, too, just to be goofy."

Crowther collects die-cast metal vehicles, and had a surplus of small cars and trucks hanging around. "They're just novelties; they're not worth anything," he says. "I know there's a famous 'Gum Wall' in Seattle, where people put their chewing gum. There's also a 'Doll Wall' in North Portland that attracts some attention.

"I just thought it would be fun to have something like that here, too, so I mounted them up high enough to be out of the way, but still visible to passersby. I figure, if you can put a smile on somebody's face, you've done something good for the day."

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