What’s the deal with backlane art?

When the Downtown BIZ put forward the idea to create an installation piece in the back lane adjacent to Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Dollarama, Credit Union Central – this news pumped me up.

Winnipeg is a progressive city when it comes to art and the art community but rarely are we given an opportunity to produce exciting and engaging public art.
There has been attempts to place public art throughout Winnipeg, and most of it has condensed into the downtown area to appeal to visitors or our own public who’re afraid of downtown.

Attempts like the Bears on Broadway had an interesting craft feel, but overall has been a flop. The 67 bears that were created had been a fundraising tactic and each bear was sold between $10,000 to $12,500 to corporate sponsors. Yes – it went to a fantastic cause, but now 10 years later we’ve seen these public works crumble and have questioned who is responsible?

In 2008 we saw Gordon Reeve’s Agassize Ice sculpture go up on Portage Avenue near the north walking bridge entrance of Assiniboine Park. My love for this piece has grown over the years but there are many people I’ve met who’ve disdained this work in its “lack of creativity” and failure to engage.

Public Winnipeg Art: Agassiz Ice


Now in the last few years we’ve seen the resurgence of murals being made but emerging  local artists, and this has excited the young public – (click to see previous post about it) – so why are still having a hard time understanding the potential of an installation that will be maintained and engage empty space?

For those who still are unsure how a space may be used as a work of art… here are some examples and potentials of what we might see.

Les Boules Roses by Claude Cormier and Associates


LightRails by Bill FitzGibbons


Quantum Field X3 by Hiro Yamagata


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