1 of 15
Slideshow-prev-disabled Slideshow-next
Inversion: Plus Minus is a 60-foot high sculpture taking shape on SE Grand Ave. Parts one and two of the three-part piece stand at the Hawthorne Bridge. Part three will be completed this summer near the Morrison Bridge. The artists are Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo who go by the moniker Lead Pencil Studio.
2 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
The $700,000 Corten steel sculpture comes courtesy of the Portland Streetcar project which is subject to the city’s percent-for-art program requiring 2 percent of any publicly funded capitol project be spent on art.
3 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Han and Mihalyo trained and met at the University of Oregon’s School of Allied Arts and Architecture. Now based in Seattle, they work across the country and in TK earned the prestigious Prix de Rome.
4 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Their work straddles the lines between sculpture and architecture, embracing the vaster possibilities of art at the scale of buildings. “I love seeing a tiny drawing or reading a sentence that takes me out of this world,” Han told the UW blogger Kate Murphy. Above is their 2003 sculpture in Seattle, Stairway.
5 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
“But what we find,” she added, “is that there is no substitution for the real experience of physically moving through and perceiving space at a 1:1 scale.”
6 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Lead Pencil Studio has created pieces at gallery scale, such as Minus Space, an installation for the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.
7 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Han and Mihalyo have done other permanent outdoor sculptures such as Non-Sign 2, completed in 2010 at the border crossing in Blaine, Washington.
8 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Optical illusion is a Lead Pencil specialty.
9 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Non-Sign 2 is made of welded steel.
10 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Made of common scaffolding and blue mesh, it was built to the exact proportions to the Maryhill Museum, but erected like a mirror image across the Columbia Gorge from the museum.
11 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
The duo describes their work as being “about architecture with none of its function” and as “architecture in reverse.”
12 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
As Han told Murphy, “We explore some of the ineffable qualities of light, form and space alongside social and cultural influences by isolating individual ideas . . . rather than making functional spaces. . . Restated more simply, we’re creating functionless architecture to get at a liberated form of spatial exploration.”
13 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
For their next project in Oregon, Lead Pencil Studio will transform the old morgue at the Oregon State Hospital into a memorial for the controversial unclaimed “cremains” of one-time patients.
14 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Lead Pencil’s project itself became controversial when ardent historic preservationists opposed any changes to the old morgue building.
15 of 15
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next-disabled
For the Hawthorne Bridge portion of Inversion, Mihalyo says the goal was “basically rendering a couple of buildings that once stood there.” The Central Eastside neighborhood, he adds, “has a lot of filigree-type structures. There’s a lot of billboards made out of angle iron and a lot of orthogonal gridwork for power as well.” The area, he notes, is “going through a huge transition that could turn one way or another. I know there’s a lot of work being done to keep it mixed use and a manufacturing area. There’s a threat of large scale housing with the streetcar. So we really wanted to comment on that.”
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
More Slide shows

Please help us keep this community civil. We retain the right to remove or edit comments containing personal attacks or excessive profanity, and comments unrelated to the editorial content. Consult our Terms of Use for more details.