“Making this happen is a sign of resistance against oppression,” said Titi de Baccarat this afternoon at the celebration of his important sculpture in downtown Portland. Baccarat had first hand experience with oppression in his native Gabon in West Africa that forced him to flee his home over five years ago where his life was threatened. He still has family living there.
The sculpture is made of metal and other found articles said Baccarat at the reception. It took him ten (10) days to create. It’s expected to remain in place, high above 754 Congress Street, and across from The Francis for about seven or more months. The sculpture was installed next to Tandem Bakery two days ago. “It was challenging to install,” said Baccarat.
Artist Daniel Minter, and founder of Indigo Arts Alliance, a non-profit, asked for a moment of silence to remember the life of the iconic Congressman John Lewis who died yesterday and his sometimes brutal battle for civil rights for the Black population. “This piece acknowledges the 13th amendment and emancipation and following lynchings no longer with a rope, but the outcome is the same,” Minter said.
“I’m ashamed because people have to come to me to struggle for their rights. In his next sentence he said: “Thank you because thanks to you there is still hope,” Baccarat said to a crowd that braved 90 plus temperatures and no breeze to celebrate this important sculpture – an inspiration for everyone who has ever experienced oppression.
The empty lot became available because Tony Delois, owner of The Francis across the street, decided to delay the construction of a boutique, 48 room hotel on the quarter of an acre. The plan is now to begin construction with the intention of opening in the spring of 2022. “We are hoping we will be beyond the pandemic by then,” said Delois.
Concluding the one-half hour or so celebration was a stunning rendering of Sam Cook’s “A Change is Going to Come” by Jennifer Rachele. A fitting ending to an important occasion.
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