OREGON ZOO POEMS (1998–2015)
In Feb, 1998, responding for a “Request for Proposals,” George Venn sent 9 poems to John Fraser, Design Coordinator, New Oregon Zoo. By April, Metro had executed a formal agreement with Venn for poetry to be installed at the Alpine Exhibit. Brent Cain and Jonquil LeMaster, Project Managers, gave the specifics: 30 words for “High Cascades” to be engraved in 2" high black letters on a 2' x 6' artificial stone slab installed at the main entrance. For “The Lichen Family Story,” 30 words 1" high calligraphed on a 2' x 2' graphic panel to be strapped to a boulder beside the main path. Both poems would have the poet’s signature. For the next 3 months, Venn closely studied the “Topic Sheets” about the Cascade range and lichen in the Project Manual provided by the Portico Group , then wrote, submitted, and revised multiple drafts. Final drafts were eventually approved by John Fraser. In September, 1998, when the Cascade Crest Exhibit opened to the public, the two poems were displayed in their separate sites and final formats. Eleven years passed. By April, 2009, weather had erased the entire text of “High Cascades.” After Venn drew that erosion to the attention of Acting Zoo Director Mike Keele, he began the process of replacing both poems. In 2013, Tyson Stoianoff, new Zoo Director, commissioned Peter Andrusko to engrave both poems on 45" slabs of durable columnar basalt. By June, 2015, the poems were restored for public viewing.