CMLC Announces Artist for New Central Library's Public Art Program

    · 6 min read

    International artist Christian Moeller to create three-piece sculpture and a mural that uses 11,000 books

    Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)—lead developer of Calgary’s New Central Library (NCL), a $245 million fully-funded civic amenity in the re-emerging neighbourhood of East Village—is delighted to announce the public art installations for the New Central Library and to introduce the artist who’ll create them.

    “Our search for an artist whose work would befit a landmark facility like the New Central Library began in 2014, when we issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from local, national and international artists,” says Susan Veres, senior vice president of strategy & business development. “More than two hundred artists and artist teams from all over the world responded to the RFQ—an emphatic testament to the significance of the opportunity.”

    The budget for the commission was guided by City of Calgary’s Public Art Policy, which includes a “percent for public art” strategy for funding the acquisition, administration and management of public art in Calgary. To complete the public art installations for the New Central Library, the selected artist worked with a budget of $2 million which is inclusive of all fees, expenses, and fabrication costs, delivery and installation.

    Through a robust and multi-staged selection process which was informed by the City of Calgary’s Public Art Program, the responses CMLC received—239 in total—were first narrowed to a list of 35. The task of establishing a shortlist to then advance to a Request for Proposals (RFP) stage was guided by a Volunteer Art Committee comprising a community resident, an artist and representative from ACAD, a curator from Glenbow Museum, a rep from Calgary Public Library and a rep from Calgary Arts Development organization. Non-voting members/observers included reps from CMLC, City of Calgary Public Art Program and the NCL design team.

    The finalists selected by the Volunteer Art Committee—all of whom have national/international careers, work in a variety of media and have experience with public art projects and museum and gallery work—were then invited to respond to CMLC’s RFP. Each of the five finalists went through a detailed orientation with members of the NCL project team, various representatives from Calgary Public Library, a local historian and the design team to ensure a thorough understanding of the NCL vision, site and building design. Each artist then developed and presented their concepts to the committee.

    “In April 2015, in consultation with non-voting members, the committee selected Christian Moeller for his proposal to create an iconic outdoor three-piece sculpture suite and an interior installation for the New Central Library,” says Veres. “His colourful, captivating concepts bring a playfulness to the library experience–a delightful sense of arrival and wonder for all visitors to enjoy, especially children.”

    Now in the finishing stages of construction, under budget and right on schedule for its November 1, 2018 Grand Opening, the New Central Library’s dramatic and dynamic architecture and design will be enhanced by Moeller’s installations, which will include an exterior three-piece sculpture and an interior “book wall” that employs nearly 11,000 books whose spines, in 12 different colours, create the image of a fish.

    The exterior three-piece sculpture— “TRIO”—will be installed on the library’s east and west outdoor plaza spaces. Each piece measure nine to 10 metres tall and moves like a pendulum to create a visual choreography.

    The book wall— “FISH”—is approximately three metres (10 feet) tall by 14 m (45 ft) wide. It will be located on the third floor of the library.

    “Christian’s art reflects the innovative nature of this project and compliments our vision to create an inspiring place,” says Bill Ptacek, CEO, Calgary Public Library. “Beyond their intrinsic artistic merit, his works will reinforce the identity of the New Central Library experience by bringing an enchanting and whimsical experience that will captivate the imagination of children and visitors of all ages”.

    Moeller studied architecture at the College of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt and under Gustav Peichl at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. After working in the Stuttgart architect's office of Günther Behnisch he commenced as guest artist in the Institute for New Media in the Städelschule, Frankfurt, under Peter Weibel. In 1990 he founded his own artist studio and media laboratory in Frankfurt. From 1995 to 1997, he headed the ARCHEMEDIA research institute at the College of Design in Linz, Austria. He was a professor at the State College of Design in Karlsruhe, Germany, until he moved to the United States in 2001. He is currently a professor in the department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and operates his studio in Los Angeles, CA.

    Installation of Moeller’s works will begin in August 2018. Throughout the summer, CMLC will execute a public engagement initiative to attract Art Installation ambassadors who will assist Moeller and the artist team with the installation of the FISH book wall.

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