Public Finally Gets to See Public Art

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct 11, 2014

The wolf on Loggers Lane. Photo: Julien Abril

So you may have heard of abstract art or expressionist art or post-modernist art. For two months the District of Squamish—with $35,000 of your money—displayed its most avant-garde form: Invisible art.

Yes, this is art you may have passed right by or wondered about its whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter. Still you couldn’t see it because this is art you need to see from above.

It’s been two months since renowned artist Vic Muniz created The Wolf on district land on Loggers Lane in downtown Squamish. But there’s been nothing public about it since then.

The crucial component to complete that art, a public platform, came only last Sunday.

District spokesperson Christina Moore said the district is enthusiastic about Vic Muniz’s public art and believes it can be a big draw for tourists.

“We are in the process of constructing a public viewing platform,” Krizstine Egyed told the Reporter a few weeks ago. She brought the artists to Squamish as part of the Vancouver Biennale.

Vancouver Biennale is a bi-annual public art exhibition that brings sculptures, new media and performance works by celebrated and emerging international artists.

The district has spent $47,955 for the public projects and another project next year will cost the taxpayers another $19,180.

Konstantin Dimopoulas, a sculptor and a performance artist, will bring his Blue Trees project to Squamish in 2015.

There is also some unspecified maintenance costs associated with the existing public art projects. While public installations gives plebians a chance to look at rarefied fine art (now that it’s finally got a platform), where does it leave local artists?

Or to be more precise, how much taxpayer’s money does it leave local artists with?

About two years ago, the Squamish Arts Council received $15,000 in grant-in-aid from the district, but last year that was down to $10,000. For their public art, local artists Chili Thom and Stan Matwychuk received a grant from BC Hydro but nothing from the district.

Speaking to the Pique, Vic Muniz said he is keen to make visual art more accessible to all.

“More important than the end result is the fact that everybody feels part of it,” he told another magazine.

 If only he knew his lone wolf stared at nothing for several weeks before getting a platform.

 

Comments

  1. Jon S. says:

    Think of all the public are that could be done with Woodfibre LNG’s money!

  2. Geo Hyperform says:

    Ok so the wolf is kinda cool and gimicky. But I hope there’s a maintenance budget because it won’t look like a wolf in 2 years…and wait a second. When was the last time you saw a wolf in Squamish? But whatever you think about a lonely pile of scaffloding and boulders, NOT THE BLUE TREES! Real artists invent a new wheel each time. This artist seems to only do blue trees and he has been doing them for years around the world. Then Port Moody had them. . Then Richmond had them. Believe me ; I heard the guy speak. He’s a flake and its a boring one-liner. Once you realize you are being taken for a ride by the purveyors of elitist bienniales, you wont feel so special and unique with your generic blue trees that signify nothing about Squamish.. Don’t stand for it. Imagine how much long-lasting and locally contextual youth involved art you could could get for 20 grand. And create local employment to boot. Hire an artist facilitator instead and do something meaningful using local ideas and local labour. Create a piece of theatre based on local history and legends. Anything but the blue trees! Squamish is full of good artists. Why on earth would you spend local money on a foreigner with no understanding of this town? Tourists coming to see a ” famous” artist’s piece may buy a cup of coffee on their way to Whistler but that’s about all the benefit you’d see. Think Global Act Local. Nuff said.

  3. Gailforce says:

    this district is ridiculous in it’s spending on art. they give artists money to create art, then no one ever sees it (the log books, this wolf) or it remains unfinished (the tree stumps on buckley and cleveland). they shouldn’t be allowed to spend new money on any art until what already exists is on display properly.

    and this blue tree project…i’m sorry but i see nothing but a huge waste of money. i don’t want to see our trees painted blue. trees are beautiful and can stand on their own beauty. i don’t see how painting the trees blue says anything or adds anything. is there anything more beautiful than a street lined with pink flowered cherry trees in the spring? oh, wait, we don’t like that, we chopped them down. :(

    also, we have so many fabulous local artists, it’s not fair to give our tax money away to outside artists and contribute next to nothing to the people who live and work here.

  4. G_h says:

    Actually, there was a viewing platform for the “wolf” for a few days during the Biennale. However the central points in this article are correct: it is farcical that there has been no viewing platform since, and overall it is a startling waste of money. And, of course, the thing has now partially grown over so already looks ridiculous!

  5. Geo Hyperform says:

    Me again…In my not-so-humble opinion (opinions are rarely humble). the blame for the problem of how the public art (or any) process can get corrupted can be shared by the 3 legs of the plinth of power whose undervalued job it is to cover for each others’ bad decisions and knee jerk naïveté. Consultants must be policed by the staff and and council members must have the informed wizdom to question both. and if they cant, they need a timeout to do their homework. The 4th crucial stopgap pillar in this plinth would be you the citizen (unsung, hence loudest complainer) who must choose discerning politicians whose reasoned insights can be counted on to deeply question the motives and agendas of the staff and the consultants (since those two parties are not accessible or directly accountable to the voter). The moral: Be wary of contriving consultants who have everything to gain. Be firm with salaried civil servants who have nothing to lose. Be demanding of glad-handing polititians who have your vote to earn. Be discerning of who you vote for.