Carbon Copy by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett

Public Art in Alberta: Where to Find it and Why it’s Awesome

By Joanne Elves

Communities across the province are embracing the benefits of public art

Its wheels may no longer be on the road, but Carbon Copy is definitely stopping traffic. What looks like a driving exam gone sideways in Edmonton’s trendy Brewery District is actually a clever, award-winning sculpture created by Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett. The duo’s vision was to enhance the public space with something dynamic, complicated and compelling. Inspired by North American car culture, they bought a 1988 Plymouth Caravelle on Kijiji, and cleverly and painstakingly cut and reconstructed it to create a surrealist “glitch” aesthetic. Its placement beside a parking lot will help you find your vehicle—but locating your keys is all on you.

It’s about more than just a pretty face!

• Creating sculptures and murals has a cost, but they also have economic value. Beautifying a neighbourhood boosts community pride, while attracting business and visitors.

• Landmark art creates meeting points with pizazz. If you say, “Meet me at The Conversation on 8th Avenue” in Calgary, chances are everyone will know exactly where to be.

• Public art can celebrate notable people and cultures—and become places for celebration. Calgary’s Peace Bridge, for instance, is a popular destination for wedding photos.

white rock sculpture sitting in field as an example of public art in alberta
Bergen Rocks Sculpture Park (photo: Morton Burke)

Munch a packed lunch while wandering through the Bergen Rocks Sculpture Park in west-central Alberta. On an acreage north of the town of Bergen, artist, landowner and AMA member Morton Burke has installed one-of-a-kind works created during two international sculpture symposiums he hosted in 2008 and 2010. When you’re done, slip over to Olds (a half-hour drive northeast) to view the restof Burke’s collection on the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway.

The best virtual museums and performances to see from home

graffiti artist in cherry picker putting finishing touches on colourful mural
Working on Fluke’s vibrant collage (photo: Nikki Robinson)

Calgary’s Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP) has turned more than 50 plain brick walls and dull grey underpasses into canvases for whimsical and thought-provoking art. Check out works by these and other artists on a drive-by tour.

Fluke: The Montreal artist’s seven-storey collage of local imagery and faces is tied togetherby vibrant ribbons. 1039 17th Ave. SW

Kevin Ledo: Ledo’s parkade-wall mural honours Cree hoop dancer Angela Gladue. Its apt title, sôhkâtisiwin, means strength or power. 340 10th Ave. SW

Fats: Geese by Fathima Mohiuddin (a.k.a. FATS) migrate through a commercial building, unfettered by borders. 708 11th Ave. SW

Architectural highlights across Alberta

Troy Lovegates: You’ll need more than one stoplight to take in the details of Lovegate’s dancing, wildflower-smelling woman. 591 17th Ave. SW

Faith47: The mountain lion created by faith47 is ready to pounce on its prey. 735 12th Ave. SW

Iron sculpture of man in canoe atop a stylized river in Fort McMurray
Fort McMurray’s Reflections on the River (photo: Greg Bennett)

Public art to appreciate elsewhere in the province

1 Discover a flying canoe and some sly foxes in Fort McMurray’s MacDonald Island Park. Walk beneath Reflections on the River, a sculpture of a lone canoeist negotiating the water. Venture on to spot 28 hand-painted foxes slipping through the grass lining the path.

2 Walk the trail above Bow Falls in Banff and admire the gracefully twirling River Ribbon sculpture. The cold metal and the motion of the swirl are evocative of a rushing river.

3 The University of Lethbridge artists who created Aeolian Aviary at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery say their idea first took flight as a napkin sketch. The delicate piece combines the acoustic resonance of 16 wind- and light-sensitive metal tubes with 67 fluttering bronze birds.