I love to see public art in outdoor spaces, even if it’s something I might not personally care for. Of course, artwork is never guaranteed to suit all tastes, but communities do try to please the majority of their residents. The photos below reflect the artistic outcomes for three communities that commissioned artwork to represent particular aspects of their history. These beautiful wall murals are the results.
In September 2008, poetry rings decorating 40 light standards in Louise McKinney Riverfront Park were unveiled. Etched on each one was an excerpt, in one of six languages, from Poems for a Small Park by Edmonton’s former Poet Laureate, E.D. Blodgett. The poems and their method of presentation were specifically created as public art for the park and, in 2009, the installation won an Edmonton Urban Design Award of Merit.
“Like time and history, the river is always flowing away, always moving on, so, I’m trying to punctuate, slow down that flow with these poems,” says Blodgett. – Edmonton Journal, September 4, 2008
With sweeping views of the North Saskatchewan River, it’s easy to take a seat and find your own inspiration, here, on the river.
All photos, except where noted, copyright D. MacLeod. All rights reserved.
While Battleford is a history enthusiast’s dream come true, the City of North Battleford has an entirely different feel to it. North Battleford was established on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River in the early 1900s when it became clear the Canadian National Railway (CNR) would bypass Battleford, by not crossing the river. Today, the Battlefords have a combined population of approximately 19,000, and are home to a vibrant, and varied artistic community.
I can’t tell a story in the white man’s language, so I say what I want to say with my paintings.
The artistic mix includes a performing arts troupe, music groups, two roadhouses for all entertainment tastes, and two pretty amazing world-class art galleries: The Allen Sapp Gallery and The Chapel Gallery. In addition to a few outdoor murals, North Battleford especially, has also installed some really interesting pieces of public art. Here are a few:
Don’t Fence Me In by Donald R. Hefner, Saskatchewan Centennial 2005 (constructed from barbed wire). Although I love the symbolism of the barbed wire and its texture, in reality, the buffalo hunt had pretty much disappeared from the Canadian plains, and been replaced with cattle ranching, by the time the first settlers arrived in the 1880s-90s.
In 2014, The Prairie Sculptors Association held a two week symposium called Shapeshifters at The Chapel Gallery, “building a number of monumental sculptures from iron, wood and recycled materials.” A few of the finished sculptures remained near the Gallery, while two were relocated to the walking path between The Chapel Gallery and The Allen Sapp Gallery.
A Man in a Canoe by Kevin Quinlan (constructed with rebar). Interesting choice of location, just below the CNR freight yards, where it juxtaposes indigenous peoples’ method of transportation with the trains that brought in white settlers.
Wapiti by James Korpan (constructed with metals and found pieces). The word wapiti is an anglicized version of the Cree word for elk, which is waapiti. The full story here:
… Across the Atlantic Ocean, Brits use elk to describe the animal we all know as a moose. When British settlers came to Canada, they saw how much larger our wapiti are than the European red deer, and they thought it had to be related to the European moose – or as they called them – elk. Despite its huge size, the wapiti is a type of deer; one of the largest species of deer, in fact.