News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 02, 2020
 4.7K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 12K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 2.1K     0 

Oddball

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 18, 2016
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
1,205
P■■■L□□■A
U□■■I■■□R

B■□■C□■□T




That, in case you were not aware was my attempt at being artistic. It's probably highly derivative of something I've seen in the past that I can't quite put my finger on, but hey I'm trying. This is why I'm an analyst not an artist. You can probably argue that I don't deserve to call myself the former either, but then you'd have to know me and what I do better and then well...

upload_2018-8-17_15-4-32.jpeg


This little aside is probably doing nothing to drive your interest in the thread.


Indeed.

I'm not trying to push some grand thesis here. Hopefully you won't TLDR me. The point about being an analyst is to say, if an uninformed schnook like me can't have an opinion about public art, then public art is probably failing at it's purpose.
In Calgary we have a complex relationship with our public art. So I figured it was about time we had a thread to discuss it. This is meant to be a thread where we can all show off what we like :D and/or deride what we hate :mad:. Not just style either. This is a good place to discuss policy too.

(I also figured it was about time we had a little more action in the design & architecture sub-forum).

I'm thinking of the broadest possible definition of public art. Any art that's on display publicly. Not simply art that is owned by the public. Some of the most notable pieces in town are in fact privately owned. Maybe some of it really isn't even meant to be art? Whatever it is that you love or hate about our art, spill the beans.
 

Attachments

  • upload_2018-8-17_15-4-32.jpeg
    upload_2018-8-17_15-4-32.jpeg
    8.6 KB · Views: 675

Oddball

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 18, 2016
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
1,205
I'll kick it off with a few props for some things I like.

A PHILISTINE'S GUIDE TO CALGARY'S PUBLIC ART: THE BIG 3
Warning, Uninformed Crack-Pot Opinions about Art to Follow


Someone else can fill in the blanks about the whos, whens and whys with this stuff. That isn't where I wanna go. I just wanna talk about what the three pieces of public art that I think are a cut above in this city and why I like them.

This is the best piece of art in the city.


The_Conversation_%28Calgary%29.jpg

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McElcheran

A lot of Calgary's art tends to be geometric, kind-of abstract, often monolithic and more than a little soulless. It doesn't help that a lot of it is the result of being mandatory and tied to a piece of infrastructure. It's as though it was erected just because who ever okay-ed it had hoped that it might not be offensive. We all know how that's gone recently.

The Conversation is exactly the opposite of all of that. It might not be a literal piece of statuary about someone specific, but it's definitely about something concrete. It's human... obviously. It's too roughly life sized guys having an engaging conversation. Best of all it invites you to join in. And may people have! :D The unmistakable spots of polished bronze adorning it are testament to that fact.

On top of that, I think it's really managed to capture something about the spirit of the city. They're businessmen for one. If you're in downtown Calgary you're probably one too. But, their demeanor isn't overly stiff. They're getting into it about something. There's something a little shoot from the hip about it. Maybe they aren't even talking business? This is Calgary after all eh. They're probably talking about the Flames. ;)

Shorter Guy: Can you believe Brouwer has 2 years left on contract!

Taller Guy: It's ok. He's probably gonna get bought out.

Boom! Nailed it taller guy.

Maybe in a few years it'll be thought of as our Mannenken Pis or Charging Bull. A world renown statue
synonymous with it's home city.




This is how I imagine Wonderland came to be. A fancy business man walked up to his head of procurement and said, "We need an art." To which the head of procurement replied, "Can you give me anything to go on?" Then the fancy businessman said, "What do I look like? Picasso? Just make sure it's big enough to stick out in front of the building and won't get us in trouble. Oh and if you can, make it work with the budget make. But also it prestigious if you can. I wanna be able to show up those other fancy businessmen. You know the ones I mean."

wonderland_in_calgary_3.jpg

From: https://www.thestar.com/entertainme...t_jaume_plensa_helps_calgary_come_of_age.html

Boom! A Spanish artist produces for us a large wireframe woman's head. Maybe it needs to sink into it's context a bit more before I really feel like it's a part of the city, but I really feel like it could be anywhere in the world and be equally enjoyable. That said, I like it. I'm glad we have it. I just wish I could climb on it and eat a sandwich where the cerebellum should be.

Yes yes yes... it's large and geometric and a little bit abstract. BUT HEY! My point isn't to rag on abstraction. It's just that when it's all you ever see you can't appreciate it. Wonderland is just for a lack of a better word... better than the rest. It's a uselessly subjective opinion sure, but I think a lot of people would agree with me about it's inherent betterness, especially with reference to most of the rest of the city's public art.




I never really knew downtown without the Trees. They were built long before I became a downtown office toiler. So I'll never know what the allegedly gusty pre-arborial Stephen Avenue was like. I've never had my fedora blown off down there, and as soon as I get one I never will either thanks to that lovely white canopy floating overhead. So, they're both functional and pleasing to the eye. They've got to be responsible for the only outwardly recognizable street-scape we have in the city. When the Globe or Post wants to do a business-y shot that screams business-y things about Calgary. The trees step up to the plate admirably.

galleria-trees-stephen-avenue.jpg

From: http://www.calgarydowntown.com/saw/Stephen-avenue-info/stephen-avenue-galleria-trees.html

At first glance they go along with a lot of the things that I just said are wrong with Calgary's public art. They appear to large, geometric, soulless, mandatory and abstract. Sure they're geometric, but we aren't dealing with a floating blue ring, stack of bronze tubing or some overdone giant lettering. Me and a decent piece of math software can whip up a passable pile of crud like without much effort. That's hardly something we should be pumping as public art. But what appears to be geometric abstraction is actually intent. The Trees are engineered to do a job, disburse the wind. So what comes first, the art or public utility? I'd argue in them we have a happy marriage of both at once. A copse of gently swooping civil servants that admirably ape at their namesake in both pleasure and purpose. I mean this to sound endearing rather than snide, I can hardly think of anything less soulless than that when it comes to large heaps of steel.





Note! I had some trouble uploading pics of my own. So I grabbed some place holders from the random internets that I plan to swap out with my own this evening.

Lastly, I have an honourable mention set aside too. Ever since I was a kid I've always loved the 2 nuts and bolts guys at Bow Valley Square. I just found out that their names are "Sadko & Kabuki." I'll have to read up more on that. They aren't there right now! :eek: I hope they're just getting refurbished, but cause I'd hate to lose them! Get well soon fellas!

38656828194_3794e9bd8e_b.jpg

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/38656828194

I hope you've had at least few good chuckles if you read this far. I look forward to seeing the things that you guys like about our art most of all. And hopefully, point out a few things I've never seen before! :D
 

RyLucky

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
287
Reaction score
379
Those are some good ones, @Oddball . I'm a sucker for old fashioned bronze statues and war memorials. Those CBE ones were always a fave. Famous 5 too.

I think Calgary does ...okay... for a city of its age, size, and vintage for public art. Most of it is corporate or institutional (as you might expect) and there's still not much to see in galleries from a tourist's perspective. I think the Glenbow is on the right track with merging history and art, but it can do better on both fronts.

I actually think art is not so important as the everyday experience of walking through streets and parks.
 

Oddball

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 18, 2016
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
1,205
I get what you're saying, a good street or park can usually carry it's own weight without any explicit instances of public art or statuary. A great piece of public art probably wouldn't be enough to liven up a horrible neighbourhood or park. However, I often find that a good piece of public art can serve as a focal point for a location that adds to the environment.

I like classical bronze statuary as well. That's partly why I was bitching about Calgary's glut of modernist/post-modernist geometric nothingness. I get jealous when I see things in other cities like the statue of Charlemagne near Nortre Dame or Nelson's Column in London. Granted our history doesn't really have any Charles the Greats or Lord Nelsons. The famous five statues are a great start. At least people aren't clamouring to tear it down because Nellie McClung "campaigned for the sterilization of the simple minded." Calgary should build a shiny new statue of Sir John A. just to stuff it to Canada's more anxious and excitable metropolitan areas. :rolleyes: Let's go nuts. As long as it isn't an infamous mass murderer like Mao, Stalin or pick your nazi, we're probably fine. Sir John A. looks like Jesus' better brother next to Genghis Khan. (He was considered bad 800 years ago. :eek: But hey today we look on him as someone who fostered trade, law and religious tolerance. :p)

I found an interesting CBC article on the Family of Man/Brotherhood of Mankind (CBE giants.) statues. Firstly, they're aluminum, not bronze which I had no idea. Second and far more crazily, they're from the British pavilion at Expo 67 and they're original purpose was to gloat about how much the modern world owes Britain. :p Thirdly their familiar circular arrangement in Calgary is by accident. When a wealthy local benefactor purchased and donated them to the city, they officials had no idea how to set them up and this is what they came up with. I like those statues, but a great story always makes things even better. I wouldn't say they qualify quite in the same category as the Famous Five or Sitting Eagle statues. I'd class them more like The Conversation as a little more impressionistic rather than directly representational.
 

Social Justice

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 22, 2017
Messages
477
Reaction score
694
City:
Calgary
I all seriousness, that would be pretty funny if Calgary build a John A. Macdonald statue.
 

darwink

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
2,138
Reaction score
5,983
I can only think of a handful of individuals that have statues in Calgary: Sitting Eagle, the Famous 5, the Queen, Robert the Bruce, Chief Crowchild. At Heritage Park they are trying to install a bust of every Prime Minister, but that is a slow project and I think they only have Bennett so far.
 

artvandelay

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
92
Reaction score
239
City:
Calgary
This is pretty cool - I've always thought Calgary is lacking in traditional statues of historical figures. Also it's nice to see that it's being funded fully by private donations.

Edmonton sculptor creating Churchill statue to be unveiled in Calgary this August

I'd like to see it placed at Central Memorial Park as opposed to being hidden away in Victory Park. We already have a beautiful 100 year old statue of General Wolfe (that inspired the beautiful Wolfe + Sparrows posted above) tucked away in Mount Royal.
 

DougB

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
349
Reaction score
576
City:
Perth
The Conversation used to have a companion piece inside the entrance to the General Services Building at FMC. Unsure if it is still there.

Calgary has some decent privately funded art. Most of the City funded public art, is garbage.
 

ByeByeBaby

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 18, 2017
Messages
268
Reaction score
1,374
City:
Calgary
This is pretty cool - I've always thought Calgary is lacking in traditional statues of historical figures. Also it's nice to see that it's being funded fully by private donations.

Edmonton sculptor creating Churchill statue to be unveiled in Calgary this August

I'd like to see it placed at Central Memorial Park as opposed to being hidden away in Victory Park. We already have a beautiful 100 year old statue of General Wolfe (that inspired the beautiful Wolfe + Sparrows posted above) tucked away in Mount Royal.
It's a good likeness of the man. I hope they display it with some of his historic quotes, like "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" or 'I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race.' or 'It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population'.

I'd like to see more statues of historic figures as well; ideally those who had something more to do with Calgary than passing through one time; especially those who are not already well-memorialized in schools and pools.
 

Top