Nen­shi an­gry arts vol­un­teers get­ting gears from pub­lic ...

Calgary Sun - - FRONT PAGE - rick bell rbell@post­media.com 403•250•4305 @sun­rick­bell

Mayor fi­nally has some­thing to say about con­tro­ver­sial Bow­fort Tow­ers RICK BELL

When you hear the words “lynch mob” and there’s been no lynch­ing and there is no mob, the col­umn kind of writes it­self.

Took Mayor Nen­shi a week but he came out strong. Against you. Well, maybe not against you.

That is, un­less you went af­ter the id­iocy of the peo­ple who picked the four rusty-look­ing tall thin­gies known as Bow­fort Tow­ers, part of a half-mil­lion-buck pub­lic art deal paid for by Cal­gar­i­ans.

Then you could be part of a “lynch mob” giv­ing a hard time to those poor city-ap­pointed pur­vey­ors of good taste de­cid­ing what art gets the pub­lic dime — and screw­ing it up.

“I don’t like the fact these vol­un­teers have sort of been in line for a pub­lic lynch mob on all of this,” says Mayor Nen­shi.

Nen­shi is clearly both­ered. He says so. The mayor says he doesn’t like “putting vol­un­teers into that line of sight.”

Pub­lic lynch mob. Mighty strong words. Have to say folks are up­set the city can’t get its pick­ing of pub­lic art right, even af­ter we were told they’d learned a les­son from the Gi­ant Blue Ring four years back. But a lynch mob? Re­ally. “They worked very hard. They looked at lots of dif­fer­ent pro­pos­als and this is what they felt made sense for that lo­ca­tion,” says Nen­shi, of those who thought the rusty thin­gies were a swell thing.

They were out of step with the pub­lic who are pay­ing for the art.

Nen­shi says the city com­pletely fol­lowed their pol­icy “of how pub­lic art is sup­posed to work” to a T.

The mayor does ad­mit he is try­ing to fig­ure out “how we end up with stuff that’s maybe not all that nice all the time.”

But he adds how he cer­tainly wants to hon­our the work of those who pick the stuff that’s maybe not all that nice all the time.

As for Cal­gar­i­ans not be­ing asked what they think BE­FORE the rusty thin­gies got the thumbs up and were placed on the south side of the high­way by Canada Olympic Park.

Well, says the mayor, the city fol­lowed their pol­icy on con­sult­ing the pub­lic.

Nen­shi was hop­ing the city changes to their pol­icy af­ter the Gi­ant Blue Ring would give Cal­gar­i­ans more say.

“Clearly that has not hap­pened,” says His Wor­ship.

He’s look­ing for­ward to what coun­cil­lors cook up at their Septem­ber gabfest and will vote Yes if it makes sense.

Can’t wait for that cir­cus to come to town.

There’s more. It’s the rusty thin­gies, a con­ver­sa­tion starter if ever there was one.

As for the sup­posed Black­foot sym­bol­ism of the thin­gies and how First Na­tions peo­ple wanted a say since the thin­gies are con­nected to a pro­ject near the yet-to-be-built Medicine Hill com­mu­nity on land im­por­tant to the Black­foot …

Nen­shi says the city did talk to “a par­tic­u­larly skilled tra­di­tional knowl­edge keeper” and ex­pert in Black­foot sym­bol­ism.

There again, he says, the city fol­lowed their pol­icy to a T.

“I can’t fault my city ad­min­is­tra­tion col­leagues be­cause they did ex­actly what the pol­icy asked them to do.” Ev­ery­thing is just fine. As for the rusty thin­gies them­selves, Nen­shi hasn’t seen them. And the rest of the pub­lic art, the cre­ation out of the mounds of dirt on the other side of the high­way, isn’t done. So he has no opin­ion yet. Funny. In the 2013 election cam­paign the Gi­ant Blue Ring be­came a story.

Nen­shi was quick to slam it as “aw­ful” and backed a re­view of pub­lic art pol­icy.

Of course that work was said to be com­mis­sioned be­fore Nen­shi was first elected.

The rusty thin­gies got the green light on Nen­shi’s watch.

Funny also how the city rolled out the rusty thin­gies now, in the dog days of sum­mer.

Why not wait un­til the mounds of dirt artistry is done … er … some­time in Oc­to­ber?

For­got. There’s an election in Oc­to­ber.

An­other funny. City hall has yet to de­cide whether to ac­cept an idea float­ing out there in the big blue playpen.

How about spruc­ing up the Gi­ant Blue Ring?

At Christ­mas, make the ring a wreath. At Thanks­giv­ing, make it a horn of plenty over­flow­ing with fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Nat­u­rally, it could be a Gi­ant Rain­bow Ring on Pride Month.

I’m not kid­ding.

PosT­media file

Bow­fort Tow­ers at the Trans-Canada Hwy. and Bow­fort Rd. N.W.

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