WESTBANK FIRST NATION - Kelowna has commissioned artists from across North America for its public art program, many without any clear connection to the City or its history and some of the pieces are just as generic. But next week, the city is getting local and unveiling the latest addition to its public art program with a new piece from Westbank First Nation.
The City and band will unveil new artwork on Bernard Avenue and while there's no peeking, it's expected to take cues from the band's public art program. Westbank First Nation has commissioned numerous public art projects over the years and you notice something immediately different with them: The artists are local. The subjects are traditional, cultural and relevant.
From the WFN logo, the Coyote, the Elk and Horse and Rider to some of the indoor pieces dotted around the community, each piece seems grounded.
It's all by design, says WFN curatorial and heritage researcher Jordan Coble. He says the band is forming a committee to ensure the program stays that way.
“We want to make sure that it’s community driven," he says. “We’re trying to get as much feedback from the community as possible so that the public art that’s chosen in the future represents the vision of the community."
The committee will follow the current trend of emphasizing local First Nations artists and their work and will include representatives of as many backgrounds and ages as possible.
“We want to incorporate a traditional style, so we have an elder, and there are youth involved. We have a nice scope of WFN members and they each can represent their own group.”
Coble says the goal is to make sure there’s a process in place where new artists are encouraged to be creative and possibly have their own public art installations one day.
Smoker Marchand is an Okanagan Nation member and artist who was asked by WFN leadership more than two years ago to create pieces for three West Kelowna locations.
“Smoker’s work is well-known throughout all of the Okanagan territory,” Coble says.
“He does metal sculptures, which is nice because there’s a little more longevity to their work.”
Marchand completed “horse and rider” outside Snyatan Shopping Centre two years ago and “elk” on Butt Rd. and Hwy 97 last summer. He also created “Ogopogo”, a 3D steel sculpture of the famous lake monster that is embedded into a retaining wall of Okanagan Lake Landing Shopping Centre.
Dan Brown, WFN planner, says that the committee will likely be in place by January 2014.
“There’s going to be lots more (public art) coming but we can’t talk about that yet,” Brown said.
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