Art in the Public Realm
As we lead the redevelopment and revitalization of Calgary’s most historic neighbourhood, CMLC’s commitment to arts and culture – important pillars of both the Area Redevelopment Plan and the Master Plan for East Village – is shaping the neighbourhood’s uniquely compelling character. Public art and a vibrant cultural scene make the neighbourhood more inviting, more engaging and ultimately more desirable as a place to live.
Through our Art in the Public Realm program, which seeks to build a legacy of public art through permanent and temporary, curated art installations of local, national and international significance, CMLC is transforming Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood for the future while preserving its distinctive character and rich history.
In April 2012, CMLC unveiled East Village’s first permanent art installation – a 24-foot high spectacle on the corner of 4th Street and 5th Avenue SE. Beckoning onlookers to this East Village gateway, Promenade by renowned contemporary British artist Julian Opie comprises a four-sided tower with 20 LED panels that display mesmerizing animations of people walking. Opie is considered one of the most significant pop artists of his generation – a leading figure in computerized art whose work is exhibited internationally.
The largest work of its kind in the country and only the second Opie creation in Canada, Promenade reflects the flow of passers-by, of the Bow River, of traffic and of time through East Village – an artist’s inspired response to the character and energy of the environment. While the artist describes the work as “a marker for the new East Village – an identifier for the new life being created in this neighbourhood,” it is equally a tribute to the energy and sense of community that thrived here in the earliest days of East Village and the City of Calgary.
The Art in the Public Realm program’s second permanent installation in East Village, this huge mosaic by Calgary artist Ron Moppett is 34 metres long and four metres high. A bright and beautiful depiction of Calgary’s genesis, evolution and future, it incorporates nearly a million unique pieces of tile and five panels that evolve from a ‘glacial whiteness’ to a Chinook, European immigration and a reference to William Reader, Calgary’s first superintendent of parks and cemeteries.
The work’s central theme, according to the artist, is genesis. Starting from the south and moving north toward the Bow River along Riverfront Lane (our first pedestrian-only street), each panel tells a story of genesis – of a place and neighbourhood, of a city and province – delivered in a way that’s abstract, poetic, joyful, colourful and playful.
The Field Manual: A compendium of local confluence
In summer 2012, CMLC initiated an open Request for Proposal to create the second curated art installation for East Village’s RiverWalk. The goal was to allow local artists to enhance the neighbourhood’s character and identity through works that “surprise, delight and provoke connection and memorable interaction; create engaging spaces that encourage people to visit the area; and add to Calgary’s cultural wealth and public realm.”
From the throng of respondents, CMLC selected Light & Soul – a trio of Calgary artists (Daniel J. Kirk, Ivan Ostapenko and Kai Cabunoc-Boettcher) whose creative concept merges past, present and future into a playful interpretation of place. According to the artists, the installation “tells the story of what East Calgary may have been…and what it may become. Individual stories and collective history informed our personal ideas about this place of confluence. East Village is a place where past meets future. The work finds specific context where the Elbow River meets the Bow, where old traditions intersect and inform new trends.”
Window to the wild
The third artist commissioned for the RiverWalk temporary public art program was selected in Spring 2016. Curtis Van Charles Sorensen's installation represents his perspective on an authentic Canadian adventure - a new take on traditional wildlife and realism.
Adorning RiverWalk’s bridge abutments, storage sheds and signature washrooms until 2018, the Van Charles installation is a series of images that depict flowers, leaves and animals indigenous to Southern Alberta and the Bow River – the beaver, fox, coyote, heron and many others.
In July 2015, Bloom by Michel de Broin became the third permanent art installation to come about through CMLC's Art in the Public Realm program. The concept, says the artist, was “inspired by the encounter between the natural landscape of the park and the urban cityscape. The monumental sculpture of streetlights blossomed, softly awakening the island and watching over it at night. Like the flower, the monumentality of the lights lies in sharp contrast to the delicacy of the stems, filaments and petals. Devices of attraction, flowers and lights create points of encounter and interaction.”
“It’s an apt symbol for St. Patrick’s Island and the vision that has guided CMLC in our restoration of this valuable public space,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s President and CEO. “Creating points of encounter and interaction is something we’ve purposefully endeavoured to do in every dimension of our East Village and Rivers District redevelopment efforts. It’s one of the key placemaking objectives of our Art in the Public Realm program, and it’s why a permanent public art installation was identified as part of our master plan for East Village from the very start.”
Number of permanent installations: 3
Number of temporary installations (to date): 3