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International Avenue to showcase 5 local pieces of new Calgary public art

New public art on International Avenue will showcase the stories of people living and working in the Greater Forest Lawn area.

Eleven local artists are working on five site-specific artworks for 17 Avenue SE, between 26 Street and Hubalta Road.

The artist for each installation has a connection to the area and have collaborated with surrounding communities. To learn more about the experiences, stories, and histories of the people who have lived in the area, the artists spent January and February of this year conducting research and communicating with residents in order to form their artistic concepts.  

The International Avenue public art project gives small-budget opportunities for artists at different stages in their careers. The City is working with the International Avenue BRZ to install artworks along International Avenue.

Art concept #1: Project Dance

WHERE: This project will be located in Unity Park, on the south side of 17 Avenue SE between 30 Street SE and 31 Street SE.

Vahe Tokmajyan, leading a team of multidisciplinary artists, have come together to create a single art piece for International Avenue. The team is composed of artists originally from Armenia, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, and Vietnam who now call Calgary their home.

Inspired by the many murals along International Avenue, the community engagement for the piece indicated that residents were interested in seeing art that represented the dynamic energy of where they live, including vibrant colours and celebrating diverse cultures. Project Dance will be a concrete sculpture covered in a colourful mosaic of tiles, celebrating dance as a common form of expression across all cultures.

Artist concept by Janey Luc German, Juan Carlos Urria, Lovelia Vera, Zoong Nguyen and Maria Loaiza.

Art concept #2: Kawa’pomahkaiks

WHERE: Planter – on the south side of 17 Avenue S.E. at 33 Street S.E.

A member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, Adrian Stimson is a multidisciplinary artist with various works from performance art to sculptures to paintings. His concept, titled “Kawa’pomahkaiks – Animals That Roam the Prairie” will represent animals that once roamed the pre-development area of Greater Forest Lawn.

Children in the community played a large role; having drawn many photos of animals. This inspired Stimson and the piece has laser-cut steel silhouettes of animals including redtail hawk, swift fox, prairie dog, coyote, beaver, among others to playfully interact with the seating. The animals will be identified both in English and Blackfoot with links to pronunciation.

Artist concept by Adrian Stimson, under the guidance of artist Sharon Stevens. Mary Haasdyk, Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton and Cassie Suche will create the final three pieces.

Art Concept #3: Harvesting social engagement

WHERE: Corner green space, south side of 17 Avenue SE at 34 Street SE.

Calgary artists team Mia Rushton and Eric Moschopedis explored International Avenue and were struck by the richness and diversity of the foods and flavours in the area.

The concepts adds to the existing work underway by the Alex, The Greater Forest Lawn 55+ Society and Antyx Community Arts and other such organizations to create a social space for people to enjoy.

The space will include a gold-gilded pear tree underplanted with companion plants and herbs. This is intended to draw people into the space and encourage harvesting of edible plants and fruits. As well, it will include pear recipes gathered from the community and translated into some of the common languages spoken in the Greater Forest Lawn area.

Intended to evolve over time, the concept has gilded bark from the tree eventually flaking off or stretching to accommodate growth.

Art concept #4: Personifying the neighbourhood

WHERE: Located at Holy Trinity School fence – north side of 17 Avenue SE between 40 Street SE and 41 Street SE.

Mary Haasdyk’ illustrations show a series of lively and brightly-coloured panels attached to the school fence. The panels draw inspiration from the life in the neighbourhood.

Engagement for the piece invited people to share stories and collaboratively create characters coming from the eclectic and diverse nature of the Greater Forest Lawn area.

Art concept #5: Reflecting growth

WHERE: Located in Green space – north side of 17 Avenue SE at Barlow Trail/26 Street SE.

Calgarian artist Cassie Suche works mostly with patterns and abstract designs inspired by nature. This concept was developed after listening to the stories that residents in Greater Forest Lawn shared and the customs and events that shaped their lives.

Suche was struck by the events that led residents to arrive in this neighbourhood. Through the unique stories, there was a common aspect of continuous growth and moments that connected each person to their current situation. She will create a sculpture to reflect powerful moments and growth that brought and continues to bring people in this area.

Artworks will be installed this summer or the fall. Art concepts are subject to change based on budget, technical details and other considerations; they are not final. For more information, see the Current Projects link at Calgary.ca/publicart.