A Quick Tour of a Few Public Art Installations in Calgary
Updated: May 25, 2022
Public art can often compliment architecture while providing a unique character to important civic spaces. Although architecture and art share a common creative process, they are very different disciplines and forms of expression. Of greatest importance is the combination and/or contrast of materials, geometry, colours and form that provides the interest and interplay between architecture, art and the public.
We celebrate this age of self expression and self made artists by examining a number of significant public art installations in Calgary.
Social Media Hot Spots
Over the last few years the population, notably younger generations, are finding social
media has become apart of their daily routine. Social media has paved the way for new careers in digital media, such as becoming an influencer for various brands as well as other forms of advertising. One of the ways influencers can get noticed is by incorporating street art into their posts. Once a vacant canvas turned beautifully unique, street art adds character and personality to its neighbourhood. Three of the most famous social media hot spots in Calgary are the Wake me When i’m Famous wall, the iconic replica of the Nashville Wings both in Inglewood and the containR park in the Northwest. Each location is unique and carefully thought out by the artist to present a certain attitude while viewing.
Wonderland Sculpture, 2012
Maybe the most famous piece of public art in Downtown Calgary, this sculpture was designed to represent youth and their ambitions for the city. Wonderland is a 12 meter tall wire mesh sculpture of a girls head, located at the base of the tallest tower in the city. Visitors are able to walk through the sculpture, inspiring viewers to see the architecture of their own bodies.
Chinook Arc, 2014
You simply can’t drive down 12 Ave in Downtown Calgary without seeing this sculpture. The
Chinook Arc, is an illuminated infinite shape, similar to a wave. The shape draws inspiration from Calgary’s famous chinook arches, a weather event that causes warm air currents coming from the mountains to push cold air out of the valley where Calgary sits.
Brotherhood of Mankind, mid 1960’s
The Brotherhood of Mankind sculpture is made up of 10 giant 6.5 meters tall nude human
statues in Calgary’s downtown core. The initial reaction from the public was unfavourable to the artist during its creation in the late 60’s. It has now however become known as a landmark for youth, education and innocence, depicting the idea that humans can get back to their roots.
Travelling Light, 2013
During its construction, this piece gained a lot of buzz in the media. Calgarians wanted to why this ring was a necessary art display, as it was designed for the outskirts of town. The
ring known as Travelling Light is a massive free standing blue hollow circular structure, located parallel to one of Calgary’s largest highways as you exit the city. It was designed to be a frame for different views of Calgary, depending on where you stood. It is an engineering masterpiece, free standing with no guide cables or secondary support structures. The structure was constructed with a budget just under half a million dollars. Its fame is in part recognized because to this day Calgarians seem to be torn on whether they like the structure or not.
Next time you take a stroll through the streets of Calgary, be mindful of these places and take a moment to appreciate the unique character of each space and what it means to you.