Public Art In the YYC

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Blog Post 3 Feature Image

Image of the “Roger That” installation at Calgary’s Tuscany LRT Station [1]


mC:t    2015.08.11


Now we’ve written a lot in the last couple weeks at Make Calgary about architecture, place making and the spaces/buildings that populate our cities landscapes. Equally important to the conversation of space are the spaces in-between, called interstitial space. The idea of adjacencies and how the edge of one space meets another is certainly an interesting notion in regards to public interaction. In this case, let’s take a look at the use of public art and the various forms and mediums used to inform the way we experience our daily environments.


Public art has the potency within a landscape to express a multitude of purposes and functions. Placed in public spaces, art has the ability to manifest itself as a marker of place, commemorate the past, express our communal values in addition to it’s aesthetic or beautification qualities. Depending on the context of its location and its relationship to the audience, public art can provide a new way for inhabitants to experience their surrounds. At the same time that public art can be uplifting and delightful, it also has the ability to provoke and challenge the way individuals think about their environment.


Whether permanent or temporary, public art can take on many forms, from a lighting installation, mural, sculpture, landscape design, the list goes on. Calgary certainly has no shortage of public art installations, so let’s take a look at a few!



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One mural within the Field Manual series located on an underpass in the East Village. [2]


This mural project was completed by three local Calgary artists: Kai Cabunoc-Boettcher, Ivan Ostapenko and Daniel J. Kirk. Located along the East Village River Walk, the compilation of murals aims to depict the interconnectedness of Calgary’s cultural experience and represent our city’s past, present and future.



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Wonderland sculpture located at the Bow Building along Centre Street and 5th Avenue, downtown Calgary. [3]


Wonderland or known colloquially as The Giant Head, is a sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Located at the base of The Bow building, Wonderland’s mesh structure seeks to meld architecture and art together. The negative interior of the piece allows the public to interact and perceive the structure in different ways. Wonderland, was envisioned by the artist to “inspire everyone who experiences the sculpture: I believe the architecture of our bodies is the palace for our dreams” [4].




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The Public Speaker created by architectural interns Holly Simon, Justin Loucks, Kevin Lo and Phil Wilson. [5]


The Public Speaker is the winning entry for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Urban Marker competition in 2015. This structure was created as a “vessel for dialogue in the public realm, an amplifier for citizens to share their thoughts in public” [6]. The hollow cavity of the structure permits passersby to sit and listen. With the intention of providing live audio feeds during the RAIC Festival this past June, The Public Speaker aimed to give people “the opportunity to listen and learn more about architecture” [7].




Rendered image of the public art installation “Roger That” located at Calgary’s Tuscany LRT station. [8]


Canadian artist Bill Pechet created this large scale installation for our city’s Tuscany LRT station. Constructed of two series of twelve-meter poles and 221 lights, standing amid this structure the true nature of this art installation is barely perceivable. However, everything comes full circle (literally) as you step across Crowchild Trail and what appears like an arbitrary assortment of poles and lights, forms into a perfect circle. The piece was given the name “Roger that” a term often used to signfy the receipt of radio transmissions. Additionally, the structure symbolizes the convergence of two separated neighbourhoods which are bridged together through the construction of the Tuscany LRT station. Depending on the viewer’s position, the appearance of the installation’s form changes; with the intention of the piece meant to “raise questions of relative positioning and how we view the world” [9].




Rendered image of the Blue Ring located along 96th Avenue N.E and Deerfoot Trail in Calgary. [10]


The Travelling Light, also known as the Blue Ring, is an art installation viewable to all commuters travelling along Deerfoot Trail in Calgary. Conceived by a group of artists under the name Inges Idea in Berlin, The Blue Ring is a nod to the universal mode of transportation, the wheel [11]. The structure itself is different from other types of public art, in that it focuses on the theme of movement and the experience of the motor vehicle traveller. Love it or hate it, the structure serves both practical and symbolic purposes in the form of illuminating the road as well as framing the landscape as people travel along the freeway.



Image of Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels at Ralph Klein Park in Calgary. [12]


Created by Beverly Pepper, Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels was created to “illustrate the interconnections between humanity and the environment” [13]. With environmental stewardship in mind, the monoliths in conjunction with the surrounding facilities and amenities blend to create into one integrated landscape [14]. Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels aims to be a contemplative place for its dwellers, a place to reflect within the context of our natural environment.




Next: Coming soon…
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[1] “Roger That”.YYC Arts Culture Twitter. Accessed August 10, 2015.
[2] “Field Manual Mural”.Daemontown Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[3] “Wonderland Image”. Juame Plensa Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[4] Wonderland|Jaume Plensa. Arch20 Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[5] “The Public Speaker”. RAIC website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[6] Urban Marker: The Public Speaker.  RAIC website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[7] Urban Marker: The Public Speaker.  RAIC website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[8] “Render of Roger That”. Avenue Calgary Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[9] The Story of roger that, Calgary’s Latest Public Art. Avenue Calgary Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[10] “Travelling Light Render”. Yahoo Website. Accessed August 9, 2015.
[11] .Governments should give their collective heads a shake before spending taxpayer money on public art. Yahoo Website. Accessed August 10, 2015.
[12] “Haw Hill Calgary Sentinels Image”. City of Calgary Website. Accessed August 10, 2015.
[13] Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels – Public Artwork. City of Calgary Website. Accessed August, 10, 2015.
[14] Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels – Public Artwork. City of Calgary Website. Accessed August, 10, 2015.


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