Pub­lic art part of city’s her­itage

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE -

We have some won­der­ful pub­lic art here in Prince Ge­orge. Pub­lic art is planned and ex­e­cuted with the in­ten­tion of be­ing staged in a pub­lic do­main and typ­i­cally paid for by tax­pay­ers, for all to en­joy.

Sean Far­rell, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Com­mu­nity Arts Coun­cil, told me that “Pub­lic Art should in­sti­gate pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion on who we are as peo­ple. In years to come, the art should tell us what we were as a com­mu­nity when the art was cre­ated.”

Thus, pub­lic art should ex­press com­mu­nity val­ues, en­hance our en­vi­ron­ment, trans­form a land­scape, heighten our aware­ness, or ques­tion our as­sump­tions. Placed in pub­lic sites, this art is there for ev­ery­one, a form of col­lec­tive com­mu­nity ex­pres­sion. It is a vis­ual metaphor.

Two of my favourite dis­plays of pub­lic art are in the Gateway.

One is the mu­ral on the Con­naught Youth Cen­tre at 17th Av­enue and Vic­to­ria Street.

The other is a cor-ten steel (the nat­u­ral sur­face is sta­bi­lized rust) sculp­ture cre­ated by Ro­man Mun­tener. When­ever I drive by this piece of art, a smile comes across my face. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion is that of a group of happy peo­ple dancing.

John Ene­mark, who is one of 17 busi­ness own­ers in the Gateway proudly boasts that “it makes our area look good and invit­ing for peo­ple to shop in our area. It lifts up the neigh­bor­hood and peo­ple re­ally en­joy it.”

Ene­mark has some more art hap­pen­ing in the spring which he is ex­cited about but not ready to share yet. The Gateway Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Area So­ci­ety, which is over 24 years old, funds these projects through an an­nual levy of $100,000 on the lo­cal busi­nesses.

If you go to the city web­site it will give you an in­ven­tory of our pub­lic art. It never ceases to amaze me of what a vi­brant artis­tic com­mu­nity we have right at our fin­ger­tips.

The painted cedar totem pole in front of the Two Rivers Gallery cel­e­brates our abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture of this re­gion.

Many of us were for­tu­nate enough to watch this mag­nif­i­cent struc­ture as it was be­ing carved by artist Ron Se­bas­tian in front of the gallery.

Then we have a won­der­ful life size bronze of cel­e­brated so­cial worker and au­thor Brid­get Mo­ran sit­ting on the bench at Third Av­enue and Do­min­ion Street.

Some­times peo­ple sit be­side her and even share their thoughts.

Mi­lan Ba­sic’s mu­ral on the cor­ner of Fifth Av­enue and Que­bec Street is strik­ing, with a con­stant re­minder of the suc­cess­ful 2015 Canada Win­ter Games.

As well, dec­o­rated bears as well as ea­gles are a com­mon sight in down­town Prince Ge­orge.

Which brings me to the new­est pub­lic art in­stal­la­tion at the Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena on the cor­ner of Pa­tri­cia Boule­vard and Do­min­ion Street.

It de­picts three bal­loons on a string, fallen back to the ground af­ter float­ing dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion. The sym­bol­ism is sup­posed to be that the party is over – Canada Win­ter Games and the city’s 100th an­niver­sary. The project bud­get was $48,000.

Given that the se­lec­tion was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Down­town Part­ner­ship com­mit­tee formed by for­mer mayor Sherry Green, some may as­so­ciate it with Green’s party be­ing over.

They say that “beauty is in the eyes of the be­holder.”

So is in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the sym­bol­ism.

We all have dif­fer­ent tastes in what we en­joy ar­tis­ti­cally.

The bal­loons are not one of my favourite pieces. I am also bit con­cerned about the lo­ca­tion.

We all know that in­fra­struc­ture is an im­por­tant is­sue in this com­mu­nity and I ques­tion how long be­fore the arena will need to be re­placed. Will those heavy gran­ite bal­loons im­pede on the free­dom of de­vel­op­ing the site for a new use, forc­ing them to be re­lo­cated at an ad­di­tional cost?

Prince Ge­orge has so many won­der­ful gifts of pub­lic art to en­joy. Many cre­ate a lot of con­ver­sa­tion when first cre­ated and even­tu­ally they set­tle in to tell us, as well as vis­i­tors, what we were as a com­mu­nity when the art was cre­ated. It be­comes a part of our her­itage.


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