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Three pieces of public art for Edmonton’s new arena unveiled

Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderson.
Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderson. Courtesy: City of Edmonton

EDMONTON — Three works of art from Berlin, Saskatoon and Edmonton will be created for Rogers Place as part of the city’s Percent for Art policy.

The policy dedicates one per cent of construction costs to getting public art for city infrastructure.

“There still will be people unhappy that their tax dollars are being invested in art, but the conversation is changing to, ‘What art? Where? Who did it? What does it look like? Do I love it? Do I hate it?’ which is a far different conversation than, ‘That’s a waste of money,'” said Paul Moulton, executive director of the Edmonton Arts Council.

On Tuesday, the Edmonton Arts Council and the city unveiled concepts of the three final pieces that were chosen by committees through an international, national and local call for artists. There were more than 200 submissions.

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The three works are: Essential Tree by realties: united (Berlin), Skater’s Arch by Douglas Benthan (Saskatoon), and Figures in Motion by Al Henderson (Edmonton).

“I think what stood out in [Henderson’s] application was that he had combined media,” said Katherine Kerr, the public art director for the Edmonton Arts Council.

“He had combined the medium of painting in an abstract way that does reflect ice skating the way he’s made his marks and then including within that some very detailed figurative pieces.

“Those pieces will be representative of the skating rink. People like both the abstraction, the realism and the contextual element,” said Kerr.

READ MORE: Alberta artist Alex Janvier to create public art piece for Edmonton’s downtown arena 

These three pieces join Tsatsake k’e (Iron Foot Place), a previously announced work created by aboriginal artist Alex Janvier.

The brightly coloured, circular structure achieves a dramatic pictorial presence. Its flowing, window-like form becomes a framing device capturing the dynamics of ice-skating. The push of the blade, as it cuts into the surface to propel the skater forward, is exemplified through a myriad of cutout shapes, which evoke the style of Henri Matisse, creating the sculptures dynamic form. A stepped, podium-like plinth combined with the sculpture’s frame like form create a welcoming symbol for the area – an artwork functioning as a place-maker identifying the facility and the activities therein. The setting encourages citizens and visitors to embrace it as a meeting place and to use it as a dramatic backdrop for photo opportunities.
The brightly coloured, circular structure achieves a dramatic pictorial presence. Its flowing, window-like form becomes a framing device capturing the dynamics of ice-skating. The push of the blade, as it cuts into the surface to propel the skater forward, is exemplified through a myriad of cutout shapes, which evoke the style of Henri Matisse, creating the sculptures dynamic form. A stepped, podium-like plinth combined with the sculpture’s frame like form create a welcoming symbol for the area – an artwork functioning as a place-maker identifying the facility and the activities therein. The setting encourages citizens and visitors to embrace it as a meeting place and to use it as a dramatic backdrop for photo opportunities. Courtesy: City of Edmonton
Essential Tree, designed by the Berlin-based artist collective realties:united, is a large representation of the abstract trees used by architects in their design models. The artwork explores the natural environment, while at the same time paying homage to the topiaries of the European Baroque era. Place in a planter, the sculpture interacts with the real ash trees, which will be planted in the area. It will take 60 years for one of these trees to reach the scale of this 14.5 metre tall, faceted sculpture.
Essential Tree, designed by the Berlin-based artist collective realties:united, is a large representation of the abstract trees used by architects in their design models. The artwork explores the natural environment, while at the same time paying homage to the topiaries of the European Baroque era. Place in a planter, the sculpture interacts with the real ash trees, which will be planted in the area. It will take 60 years for one of these trees to reach the scale of this 14.5 metre tall, faceted sculpture. Courtesy: City of Edmonton
Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderon, combines the disciplines of painting and sculpture to create an artwork that celebrates movement and motion. In creating the work, the artist thought about the Downtown Community Arena and the activity that will animate it: “These places have a sense of community, and are a little wild sometimes, a bit proud and a whole lot of fun.” Bold, enticing and free-flowing, the work centres on a skaters and changes when viewed from many distances and angles by both pedway and rink users. The closer you get to the artwork, details such as pucks, skates, gestures and small figures reveal themselves.
Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderon, combines the disciplines of painting and sculpture to create an artwork that celebrates movement and motion. In creating the work, the artist thought about the Downtown Community Arena and the activity that will animate it: “These places have a sense of community, and are a little wild sometimes, a bit proud and a whole lot of fun.” Bold, enticing and free-flowing, the work centres on a skaters and changes when viewed from many distances and angles by both pedway and rink users. The closer you get to the artwork, details such as pucks, skates, gestures and small figures reveal themselves. Courtesy: City of Edmonton
Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderson.
Figures in Motion, created by St. Albert-based artist Al Henderson. Courtesy: City of Edmonton
Created by Aboriginal artist Alex Janvier, the artwork, Tsątsąke k’e (Iron Foot Place), evokes the Edmonton landscape and honours its continuing legacy as a meeting place. Janvier was selected from a prequalified list of Canadian and international artists to create an immense artwork for Edmonton’s newest public space. Janvier will translate his tile mosaic to be inset in the Winter Garden floor.
Created by Aboriginal artist Alex Janvier, the artwork, Tsątsąke k’e (Iron Foot Place), evokes the Edmonton landscape and honours its continuing legacy as a meeting place. Janvier was selected from a prequalified list of Canadian and international artists to create an immense artwork for Edmonton’s newest public space. Janvier will translate his tile mosaic to be inset in the Winter Garden floor. Courtesy: City of Edmonton

“I think they have caught the spirit of the building and that part of our city really well,” said Moulton. “There’s a great diversity in the look of the work which I really think is fantastic.  And, the fact we’ve attracted so much interest nationally, internationally as well as regionally, it’s all really positive for Edmonton.”

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“The public artworks for Rogers Place will become well-known places in and of themselves,” said Moulton. “For example I can see people saying, ‘I’ll meet you under the tree.'”

The art will be installed before Rogers Place opens fall 2016. Commissioning the pieces will cost $500,000 for the Essential Tree, $300,000 for  Skater’s Arch and $100,000 for Figures in Motion.

 

“The art is in the public areas where it can be enjoyed by all,” said Rick Daviss with the City of Edmonton.

“These artworks will add visual interest and character to Rogers Place, which is already becoming a signature area in Edmonton.”