COURT­ING CON­TRO­VERSY

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - — Shawn lo­gan

The best art is gen­er­ally seen as some­thing that can spark a con­ver­sa­tion.

If that’s the case, the city has ar­guably spent mil­lions on some breath­tak­ing con­ver­sa­tion starters — many of them for all the wrong rea­sons.

Here are some of Cal­gary’s more in­fa­mous ex­am­ples of public art that didn’t quite hit the mark:

2009 BEAR­ING — Built for $221,000, this large metal ball was made from fas­ten­ers, wash­ers and bear­ings to rep­re­sent work done at the Cal­gary Fire depart­ment’s ap­pa­ra­tus re­pair and main­te­nance fa­cil­ity in the north­east. un­for­tu­nately, the yard sel­dom sees vis­its from mem­bers of the public and is kept be­hind a metal fence that sur­rounds the fa­cil­ity.

2012 PEACE BRIDGE — While not tech­ni­cally a city public art project, this po­lar­iz­ing pedes­trian bridge soured many at the time due to its hefty price tag ($24.5 mil­lion) and the fact that the city sought out famed ar­chi­tect san­ti­ago Cala­trava without go­ing through the stan­dard public ten­der­ing process for in­fra­struc­ture. It’s since be­come an iconic part of the city’s sky­line, but has also faced strug­gles with bro­ken glass panes that are ex­pen­sive to re­place and some lin­ger­ing public re­sent­ment.

2012 WISH­ING WELL —No mem­bers of the public are able to view this $559,000 sculp­ture, a gi­ant, shiny orb that ap­pears split as it’s been sit­ting in stor­age for three years. In 2012, the art­work was sur­rounded by pro­tec­tive fenc­ing at the ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre in the north­east af­ter the sun’s rays re­flected by the sphere burned a wo­man’s jacket. It was moved into stor­age in the sum­mer of 2014 where it re­mains.

2013 TRAV­EL­ING LIGHT —It spawned a satir­i­cal Twit­ter ac­count and prompted coun­cil to tweak its public art pol­icy. Known lo­cally as the gi­ant Blue Ring, the $471,000 art piece along 96 ave. on the city’s north side was ridiculed by mem­bers of the public and even deemed “aw­ful” and “ter­ri­ble” by Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi.

2015 FOR­EST LAWN LIFT STA­TION (WA­TER­SHED+) — If you’ve ever won­dered how much raw sewage is flow­ing un­der For­est Lawn in real-time, this $246,000 art piece has you cov­ered. dubbed the “pretty poop palace” by the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion (who also named it for a public waste award), the Led-lit map of the sewage lines in south­east Cal­gary raised both eye­brows and hack­les, with some neigh­bours com­plain­ing the project blocked their view of the city sky­lines and moun­tains.

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