Public art part of city’s heritage
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.