April 17, 2019 8:22 pm
Updated: April 17, 2019 9:30 pm

Edmonton’s latest work of public art coming to a train station near you

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's fastest piece of public art will soon be coming to a train station near you. Margeaux Maron explains.

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Edmonton’s fastest piece of public art will soon be coming to a train station near you.

Halie Finney’s ghost dog paintings wrap the outsides and insides of two LRT cars, replacing all advertising space for the next six months.

“In order to find out how or more about the dogs you have to go inside, and then there’s kind of a narrative that you have to piece together,” Finney said.

The farm-raised artist said the art speaks to the common theme of loss and was inspired by the dogs that came in and out of her life.

“Whenever a dog passed away, we’d wrap them in a family blanket and bury them in our back yard,” Finney said. “So I was drawing the dogs kind of resurrecting and coming back to life in a more joyful way.”

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Open to interpretations, Finney said she is excited to have strangers contemplate her art on the go.

“It’s kind of nice to activate someone else’s mind, to kind of look around and ask, ‘What’s going on?’ Especially when you’re walking onto a train and unexpectedly walking into all of this colour.”

The City of Edmonton allocates roughly one per cent of capital project construction budgets to new public art. New Indigenous art has recently been installed just off Queen Elizabeth Park Road while a curious collection of bronze magpies has sat in Rossdale Linear Park since 2018.

There are 25 artworks-in-progress underway in Edmonton right now, adding to the city’s existing collection of 266 pieces for the public to enjoy.

Perched atop the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage sits one of the newest public art installations: a series of three-dimensional metallic murals. The west-facing pieces will greet drivers on Fort Road for years to come.

“Pretty much anywhere where there’s a new civic project or civic infrastructure going in, there’s going to be an art contribution,” said David Turnbull, the director of public art and conservation with the Edmonton Arts Council.

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While there is no empirical evidence to suggest Edmontonians are happier from the $18 million city-wide collection, planners are working to find out if it does indeed spark widespread enjoyment. The Ten Year Arts and Heritage Plan, adopted in the fall of 2018, includes plans to study the impact.

“We can’t just count smiles, or quizzical looks, or frowns on the street,” Turnbull said.

“We may or may not know the impact right now, but I think maybe in five years, in 10 years, 20 years, we’re really going to see the fruits of that labour.”

In the meantime, the Edmonton Arts Council is hoping residents and visitors alike will look for and appreciate the public works of art.

You can view the collection online and also access a map of where the different pieces live.

“I think that’s where the real interest comes in, it’s not just the aesthetics of the thing, it’s the information and the story that it’s telling,” Turnbull said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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