A major new art installation in East Village promises to reflect the neighbourhood’s continuing evolution and forward momentum. Promenade is by renowned contemporary London artist, Julian Opie, and was commissioned by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) to create a gateway marker to the city’s east end neighbourhood of East Village. Standing 24-feet high and consisting of a four-sided LED tower and 20 panels showcasing animated drawings, Promenade’s central theme is movement. The work is the largest of its kind in the country and only the second Opie creation in Canada. The installation is located on the corner of 4th Street SE and 5th Avenue SE in East Village.
Promenade is intended to reflect the flow of passersby, the Bow River and the movement of traffic through East Village. The installation supports the 2005 Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and the 2009 East Village Master Plan, both of which envision arts and culture as the heart of East Village.
“We consider artwork part of the software that gives a neighbourhood its true soul and character,” said Michael Brown, CMLC’s President and CEO. “Public art and a vibrant cultural scene are critical to this area’s success. It makes the neighbourhood more inviting, more engaging and ultimately more liveable. That supports residential sales and that’s good for everyone.”
Opie is considered one of the most significant pop artists of his generation and a leading figure in computerized art. His work is exhibited internationally. In Promenade, Opie reflects the language of the street. He depicts average people walking through mini street scenes. Each subject is programmed to move across each panel face in timed intervals, which allows all sides of the installation to be constantly moving and changing.
“Like a lighthouse, the animated figures sweep the surrounding landscape endlessly passing each other,” commented artist Julian Opie. "The movement does not really exist but is created by fooling the eye and brain. This piece is a marker for the new East Village – an identifier for the new life being created in this neighbourhood,” he added.
CMLC was aided in its artist and site selection by a seven-member advisory panel consisting of members of the RiverWalk design team, City of Calgary Public Art Program and Yves Trépanier and Kevin Baer of Trépanier Baer Gallery. Promenade is the first of two permanent public art installations planned by CMLC for East Village over the next several years, with this installation being timed to commemorate the city’s selection as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012.
These installations support The City of Calgary’s Public Art Policy, which aims to provide cultural leadership and guide the evolution of a distinct artistic character for the city’s public places. “This installation is incredibly exciting for Calgary,” noted Rachael Seupersad, Superintendent-Public Art, City of Calgary. “Works such as this are not just about the art, but equally about the place and the experience. Public art is informed by the city in which it is situated and in turn it informs the city.”
The East Village redevelopment is being stewarded by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, a company of passionate, experienced placemakers who bring new energy to old neighbourhoods, create credibility and confidence, and inspire communities to build, grow and believe.