Reviews start to come in for Edmonton’s newest public art piece

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WATCH ABOVE: The city's newest public art piece is raising eyebrows, as some once again ask about the city's one per cent for art policy. Vinesh Pratap reports – Jul 3, 2019

With work nearly 95 per cent complete, the reviews are starting to come in on the city’s latest art installation.

“Why the design is that way?” wonders Steve Rossi.

The piece is attached to the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage on Fort Road.

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

It’s called 53º30’N. It is by artist Thorsten Goldberg, who lives and works in Berlin and represents a collection of topographic models of mountain landscapes from all over the world, that are on the same latitude as Edmonton and are remote and uninhabited.

“My tax is paying for it, put ’em in the garbage,” exclaimed Kevin Frillman.

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The director of the University of Alberta Urban and Regional planning program also offers some criticism, worried the commission could actually hinder support for the public art policy.

Robert Summers describes the piece as “fantastic,” but is worried about a condition in the city’s art policy that attaches a piece to a project’s location — in this case, an industrial area.

“In my mind, I’d rather see it where people can see it really well,” explained Summers, adding, “where they can touch it and engage with it and where the public really appreciates it. Then they’ll support it.”

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

The Edmonton Arts Council points to extensive public consultation, involving more than 3,000 people, before the piece was chosen.

“We’re always open to taking questions because we feel that what we’re doing is we’re doing all of this in the public interest,” said Sanjay Shahani, the executive director with the council.

“I continue to support the general idea of having a public art policy,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “We review it periodically to see if there are ways we can improve it and it’s up for review right now.”

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The art piece with the installation comes with a price tag of $1 million.