Kelowna remains in on public art, just not with a welcome sign | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna remains in on public art, just not with a welcome sign

Horizon is a piece of interactive art slated to be installed at a Kelowna beach next summer.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
November 26, 2020 - 5:30 PM

Kelowna’s public art program is alive and well even though one major piece welcoming people to Kelowna was rejected this week.

The program has been around since 1997 and has contributed many highly visible art works to the city, including the Bear statue in Stuart Park and the Chief Swk’ncut sculpture by the new tourist information centre nearby.

An installation called “Imagine” was proposed for the north entrance to the city, along with the word Kelowna. Council rejected it this week but that had more to do with location – many thought it should be closer in so it could be seen by people arriving by plane. Others didn’t like the art and a welcome sign being combined.

Other pieces are going ahead, including 'Flower' that is to be installed this week in front of the Interior Building on Doyle Avenue.

“It’s a Mariposa Lilly that’s upside down with its roots in the air,” Robert Parlane, the city’s parks and buildings planning manager told “The artist’s statement on that is: we associate cut flowers with people getting well, with people being in hospital. That’s quite traditional.

“But, by turning the flower upside down, since the roots are essential to the success of the flower in terms of making it grow, he wants to celebrate all the hidden support workers within the healthcare industry, all the lab technicians and the cleaners and the administration, as well as the nurses and the doctors that all go into making up the healthcare profession. By turning the flower upside down and showing off the roots he’s making that gesture.”

The artwork was commissioned and designed in the spring of 2019.

“It was conceived long before the COVID pandemic but, in the times that we live in, it’s remarkably timely that it’s actually being installed right at the moment,” Parlane said.

Flower was created by Studio F Minus.

The same studio will be installing “Horizon” at the north end of Boyce-Gyro Beach Park this summer.

It’s quite a different in concept from Flower as it consists of 12 metres of rectangular and interactive glass panels.

Flower is to be installed at the Interior Health building in downtown Kelowna this week.
Flower is to be installed at the Interior Health building in downtown Kelowna this week.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

They are coated to reflect different colours depending on the lighting conditions but also tied into counters throughout the city that record how many pedestrians and cyclists are passing certain locations.

“There was a demand from the public for more interactive public art,” Parlane explained. “It is more experimental.”

As the counters reach their targets for the number of people out cycling each month, the glass becomes more and more opaque.

“The piece is meant to be a reflection of our encouraging of people to use alternate means of transport, particularly cycling,” Parlane said. “It’s on one of our main cycling routes for people commuting.”

That’s a way of showing how successful alternative modes of transport are without listing actual numbers, he said.

In addition, as people walk or cycle past, a clear panel will follow along with them.

The fate of Kelowna’s entry sign is now up in the air.

There once was a Kelowna sign at Reid’s Corner (where Sexsmith and Old Vernon roads meet Highway 97) but it was removed when the intersection was expanded two years ago.

The province contributed $100,000 towards a new sign but city staff had proposed a $150,000 piece of public art be included.

This piece of art won't be installed at Kelowna's northern entrance.
This piece of art won't be installed at Kelowna's northern entrance.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

That $150,000 will likely go back into the public art fund as the city has no contract to actually buy the artwork designed by Ted Fullerton, Parlane said. The $100,000 from the province remains in reserve for some future signage but that is likely to trigger some debate.

“I do actually think the sign and the art is indicative of where we’re going as a city,” Mayor Colin Basran said in supporting the project. “It’s inclusionary, it’s diverse and, I think it’s indicative of a city that’s growing from its agriculture and tourism roots. We are a city of the future. That’s what we’re building.

“What I suspect we’ll end up with is something similar to what every other city in the Okanagan has but, we are not a city like every other city in the Okanagan.”

One of the major projects that’s still to come with the city’s Public Arts Program is $250,000 for art to grace the Pandosy Waterfront Park that’s soon to be built. Calls for proposals will go out in January with installation expected for 2023.

No theme has been suggested but the park is being billed as a “regional destination for paddling enthusiasts of all ages and abilities,” according to a report that went to city council this week.

Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

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