This is a blight on city hall
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. The same could very much be said for art. One person’s art is another’s eyesore. Unless it appears to be so hideous, ill-placed and of highly questionable motivation to so many.
Oh, and we forgot, very expensive at a time when all frivolous spending should absolutely be reined in. Then it’s gloves off and a dogpile ensues. Bowfort Towers sounds rather posh and exclusive but the shine wears off in a hurry when you get past the name and actually take a look at it — large rusty girders with supports holding up flat rocks.
Use all the fancy, airy fairy descriptors you want — that’s what most people see.
Easily mistaken for construction debris by the culturally unaware, or in this case damn near every commentator with a keyboard, the art installation on the west end of the city has become a lightning rod for all that is wrong with local government spending.
Justified at its unveiling as artwork aligned with Blackfoot symbolism, it quickly became apparent local Indigenous people had no involvement in the $500,000 structure. At least, none that can be found. Some people even questioned if Bowfort Towers is intended to represent traditional Indigenous burial platforms, as it appears, which would be highly inappropriate, and certainly at an entrance to any city.
New York artist Del Geist, who designed Bowfort Towers with Patricia Leighton, strongly denies his piece mimics burial scaffolding, which further angered at least one Indigenous critic who didn’t appreciate being told how he should interpret the artwork.
Of course, those councillors on the fiscally responsible end of the spectrum are calling for changes to the city’s public art policy, as they should and, in some cases, have already.
The mayor, oddly, has refused to weigh in at all, citing the incomplete project.
But it goes without saying that someone has to be accountable for this mess, considered an outrage by so many Calgarians and our Indigenous neighbours.
Calgarians need to have some trust that the public purse is being well guarded, and not opened willy nilly for dubious projects lacking all accountability and common sense.
It’s bad enough that this council has been so deaf to the struggles of Calgarians during this endless economic downturn. Now it’s turning a blind eye, too. Taxpayers deserve better. Much, much better.