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Public Art - Do you like it? e.g. Arena or Bastion Sq.?


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#21 aastra

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 11:53 AM

I'm going to say the major problem with the arena sculpture was (and still is) its setting. It's just sitting there on the pavement in an undefined open space in a rather unfinished part of town, and many people just don't know how to take it. Are they still working on it? Have they finished putting it together? Is there more to come? Are they going to paint it? Why is it as drab and colourless as everything else around here? Is that really an art piece at all?



It could have been worse. They could have stuck it in the middle of a parking lot. Had they done that, nobody would think it was art. People would assume it was an unconventionally designed bicycle shelter or something.

Or they could have put it out front of a scrapyard, where nobody would have noticed it at all.

I'm not making fun of it. I'm making the point that the context is really important. If you stick an androgynous bronze statue beside the loading dock of a mannequin warehouse, how will people take it? If you put "Voice of Fire" in the office of the Prime Minister of Iceland, would people recognize it as art or just assume it was some sort of banner based on the national flag?

#22 aastra

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 12:05 PM

That "Night is for sleeping..." piece over by Beacon Hill Park... because it was so close to the newish condo building behind it, all sorts of people assumed it was an advertisement, rather than a work of art.

Can any art piece be put in any setting and be successful as an art piece? I don't think so. Context and setting are very important. Would a Vivaldi concerto be successful if it was staged next to a noisy freeway? No, it sure wouldn't.



#23 aastra

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 12:19 PM

As the arena district matures over the next several years, I think people may come to appreciate the sculpture more.

#24 Bernard

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 12:36 PM

I still think it should have had a bigger presence on the site. The empty plaza was a huge design mistake from the start and the work does not save this very dead space.

If the work has been in the courtyard of a building or in the lobby of the arena, it would be much more successful.

#25 Holden West

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 01:11 PM

Would a Vivaldi concerto be successful if it was staged next to a noisy freeway? No, it sure wouldn't.


True, as this Pulitzer-winning article proves.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#26 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 03:54 PM

I still think it should have had a bigger presence on the site. The empty plaza was a huge design mistake from the start and the work does not save this very dead space.

If the work has been in the courtyard of a building or in the lobby of the arena, it would be much more successful.


In their defence they do need a bit of a level, obstruction-free plaza to hold people as they enter and get security-screened for events. For Bill Clinton, every square inch of that plaza held people.

#27 aastra

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 07:30 PM

Speaking of arena art, check out "The Moons" out front of the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Methinks the Sprint Center is the coolest arena in North America. It's absolutely beautiful. And it doesn't even have a major league sports tenant.


Picture from www.chrisdoylestudio.com


Picture from www.chrisdoylestudio.com

#28 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 07:50 PM

This is the Long Beach, CA arena decorated by the same guy that did our Whale Wall on Chandlers...

http://www.laavenue....own1/whale5.jpg

#29 Chris J

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 11:17 PM

I always assumed that "Day is for resting' sign was part of the condo. I didn't know it was art. I thought the developers were eccentric or senile.

I really enjoyed your post on public art in Dublin, Caramia.

#30 Rob Randall

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 11:30 PM

I always assumed that "Day is for resting' sign was part of the condo. I didn't know it was art. I thought the developers were eccentric or senile.


Well, it is art, and it is part of the condo. The piece was site specific. It's a condo next to a major traffic artery. I think it puts a bug in the ear of commuters.

Just like the arena piece is site specific. That is a barren windswept corner and I think that played a major role in the genesis of the sculpture. The aim I think was to create a piece that you didn't merely view from a distance but actually had to get up close to, actually get inside. That's why if you scaled it up ten times bigger (or smaller) it wouldn't work. It has to be human sized. If you looked at Baden's portfolio you noticed that his work deals with the senses and how humans physically interact with technology.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

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#31 Caramia

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 11:41 PM

Oh wow! The Sprint Center is beyond cool. The "moons": are delightful too.

And thanks, Chris.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#32 Barra

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:49 AM

That "Night is for sleeping..." piece over by Beacon Hill Park... because it was so close to the newish condo building behind it, all sorts of people assumed it was an advertisement, rather than a work of art.

Can any art piece be put in any setting and be successful as an art piece? I don't think so. Context and setting are very important. Would a Vivaldi concerto be successful if it was staged next to a noisy freeway? No, it sure wouldn't.


From my understanding of Seattle, developers (just in downtown?) have been required to put 1% of their budget toward public art on site. As a result, there is a lot of interesting sculpture in small open spaces scattered through downtown. For this reason I am an advocate of providing some density bonusing in exchange for public art on site. Interestingly, this also bypasses the city's public art committee, and we have some really interesting work - I particularly like the sculptures at the Hotel Grand Pacific and at the Reef. At condos, however, it introduces an interesting challenge for the strata councils that inherit the maintenance of these pieces. At the Landmark the mattresses get dirty and don't get cleaned, 'cause the strata council doesn't like them. I find them sort of amusing, but the sign is also a problem, and while I often like text in art as a design feature, I don't like it when there is some kind of didactic undertone, which is a feature of Mowry Baden's work.
Pieta VanDyke

#33 Rob Randall

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:46 PM

We live in a city where every City policy, every building, everything has been submitted to every subcommitee, community group, then some Vancouver consultants submit a report on it which is referred by Council again to more boards and subcommittees until everyone is equally satisfied.

Public art is the last bastion of independent idividual thought where a whimsical idea like concrete mattresses along with an admonition to relax can exist on an urban street.

I just don't see the benefit of putting an artistic concept through that bureaucratic meat grinder.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#34 Rob Randall

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:54 PM

I don't like it when there is some kind of didactic undertone, which is a feature of Mowry Baden's work.


I don't really think there's didactic elements in Baden's work. He's not really lecturing, with the exception of "Night is for Sleeping..." supposedly attributed to John Phillip Sousa. So considering the context it's more ironic than didactic. I think Baden's work is more like some sort of Sado-Masochistic science experiment gone awry.

Incidentally, here's a Chinese tourist's interpretation (translation by Google):

Victoria, there is a road the mouth of a white black竖着brand that read "the night is used to sleeping during the day is used to rest (Night is for sleeping. Day is for resting)", this is probably also One of the characteristics of the city of [Victoria]. Greg稱此為一種人生哲學。 Greg said this is a philosophy of life.


"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#35 Caramia

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 10:28 AM

That Chinese tourist quote made me unreasonably happy.
Thanks for that.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#36 Barra

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 11:12 AM

I think the previous call for public input to this process needs to be thought through a bit more, because it will need some kind of process. What do you think would work? Posting all the proposals at an open house and having people vote on them? It will still draw complaints. Art is a difficult thing to get consensus on.
I had a look at the public art policy that Andy linked to on his site. It looks reasonable to me, but at the time it was drafted, we had a city Arts Manager, and now we don't. The parts that can make it work is that the committee has a representative from a number of the city's advisory committees (and these are easy to get on) as well as a neighbourhood rep.
Pieta VanDyke

#37 groundlevel

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 11:14 AM

Big admirer of Baden's Pavillion Rock and Shell in front of the Arena. When on foot I detour to stand close and run my hand over it. Loses it's appeal in drive-by.

The pieces of art up the road at cop station arresting -- West Coast carving in totem style nicely executed -- bottom figure is human face -- aboriginal features -- looking thoroughly oppressed depressed and weighed down by holding up rest of totemic non-anthro figures -- Indian Meets Justice System.

The corner sculpture is nicknamed " Four Guys Moving a Fridge " by those sassy cops.

Canoe sculpture okay -- I assume same sculptor did Victoria Airport sculptures and the "Avacadoes with Chopsticks Stuck In Them" outside Grand Pacific James Bay?

My absolute favorite is Night is For Sleeping -- delights everytime I go by.

More Art in public spaces!

As to public input -- just surprise us. I trust the taste and judgement of artists and art pros.

#38 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:00 PM

I drove down Wharf St. tonight, and in passing Bastion Square I looked up to see the Canoe decked out in what looked like green rope lights, and some red ones, too.

It looked pretty cheesy from what my quick glance could take in: green roping (lights) outlining the top edge of the canoe, and some other colored light doo-dahs inside/ rising up out of the canoe.

Please tell me this is some kind of mistake - or is it part of the design of the sculpture? Anyone here know?
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#39 mat

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:49 PM

I drove down Wharf St. tonight, and in passing Bastion Square I looked up to see the Canoe decked out in what looked like green rope lights, and some red ones, too.

It looked pretty cheesy from what my quick glance could take in: green roping (lights) outlining the top edge of the canoe, and some other colored light doo-dahs inside/ rising up out of the canoe.

Please tell me this is some kind of mistake - or is it part of the design of the sculpture? Anyone here know?


If they are the lights following the roof outline, then they are a permanent installation - not sure if they turn them on every evening, or just for 'special events'.

#40 PublicArt

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:27 PM

I would like to invite everybody to the James Bay Neighbourhood Association meeting (Wen. Feb 11, 7 PM, 234 Menzier Street).

I am planning to have the presentation regarding the Public Art Policy in Victoria.

Thank you.

Andy

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