The story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition... as told through kites

The story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition... as told through kites
'Sacagawea and Pomp' by Charlie Dunton (photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society).

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Lewis and Clark Expedition has inspired many works of art, including a collection of 26 kites that will soon be on display here in Portland.

On March 4, Visions of Lewis and Clark will premiere at the Oregon History Museum at 1200 S.W. Park Avenue in downtown Portland.

The kites were commissioned back in 2001.

Some of the nation's most renowned kite builders were asked to select a quote from Lewis and Clark's journals and then create a kite based on their interpretation.

In a news release announcing the exhibit, the Oregon History Museum explains how one of the artists came up with their design:

One kite builder, Steve Ferrel, selected a Captain Lewis quote from April 23, 1806, about the last night the Corps spent with the Nez Perce: "A little before sunset the fiddle was played and the men amused themselves with dancing about an hour. We then requested the Indians to dance which they very cheerfully complied with; they continued their dance until 10 at night. The whole assemblage of Indians about 550 men, women, and children sung and danced at the same time."

Steve wanted to know what melodies a 22-year-old man would have been playing that night in 18th century America, so he began researching. He soon found that one of America's first operas was called "The Poor Soldier."  One of the songs that swept through the young colonies was titled "Rosetree," and so Steve's 30 foot kite was given the same name. It depicts that evening through a violin being played, a tree with a rosebud branch, and a huge bonfire.

If you'd like to see the exhibit, the museum's hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Multnomah County residents can get in for free.

The kites will be on display through May 24.