Artist behind guerilla Vancouver art piece launches campaign to ‘save spidey’

Click to play video: 'Artist launches campaign to save ‘Spidey’'
Artist launches campaign to save ‘Spidey’
The mysterious artist who installed a giant spider along the Millennium Line under Victoria Drive has started a social media campaign to save the work. Sarah MacDonald reports – Mar 24, 2023

The artist behind a guerilla sculpture installation in East Vancouver that the city plans to remove is fighting to save the work.

The art work in question is a large, black spider made of recycled materials affixed beneath an overpass near Broadway and Victoria Drive, and visible from the SkyTrain Millennium Line.

The city says the work was unsanctioned, and that it is in the midst of plans on how to best remove the spider.

The anonymous Montreal-based artist who goes by the moniker Junko Playtime is calling on supporters to contact the city and ask it to leave the guerilla installation, titled Phobia, in place.

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Click to play video: 'Unsanctioned spider sculpture seen from Skytrain to be removed'
Unsanctioned spider sculpture seen from Skytrain to be removed

“I think it’s a shame, there’s are a lot of people that really enjoy the artwork and would love for it to stay there. Sure, there are some people that might not like it, but it’s impossible to please everyone with public art,” Playtime told Global News in an email.

“The work is positioned in a way that doesn’t put anything or anyone in danger and can easily be ignored if someone doesn’t want to look at it.”

Junko Playtime contrasted the city’s reaction to the spider to the mounting piles of trash along the rail line where it was installed, saying it doesn’t make sense to remove the art but not the garbage.

“In terms of this piece, the city didn’t pay a dime for it. It’s built out of waste material collected in the streets so it’s essentially cleaning up some of the litter and there’s a huge amount of people that really enjoy it — seems like a pretty good deal to me,” he said.

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Click to play video: 'City crews remove satan statue erected alongside busy Vancouver roadway'
City crews remove satan statue erected alongside busy Vancouver roadway

The City of Vancouver said the artwork was installed without review or approval, and that it began planning to remove it after complaints from the public.

It pointed to the city’s official public art program, which selects works through a jury process or its Public Art Committee, and that all approved pieces are vetted by engineers to ensure safety, structural integrity, longevity and maintenance plans.

“The installation of public art on key infrastructure, such as a bridge, would require due process to ensure safety. The unsanctioned spider artwork has not been through this review process,” it said in a statement Friday.

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The cost of removing the spider remains unclear, according to the city.

The artist responded by suggesting leaving the piece in place was a chance for Vancouver to shake its dubious reputation as “no fun city,” which he said it had earned “for a reason.”

The spider is not the first artwork by Junko Playtime to appear in Metro Vancouver.

Last month, Habitat, a sanctioned piece he created from reclaimed materials appeared outside the Bentall Centre Gallery as a part of the Vancouver Mural Festival’s Winter Arts Festival.

Last year, a large, yellow, insect-like sculpture he created called Queen BX1000 appeared in an empty lot near the Fraser River near the Canada Line.

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The artist, who said his work revolves around themes of biodiversity and ecological responsibility, said he designed the spider installation specifically for the location where he placed it, telling Global News, “the cliff face covered overhead by the large metal and concrete bridge really felt like a fitting environment for a creation like this to inhabit.”

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