It’s not just the pier that will change the look of the city – public art in front of Performing Arts Centre is going to make a difference as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 24, 2012  There is going to be another enhancement to the city – the public art that is to be placed outside the Performing Arts Centre on Locust Street just to the west of city hall will be announced very soon.  You probably won’t hear anything about this until city hall re-opens – the politicians will want to milk this announcement as much as they can.  The last public art announcement fell kind of flat..

A committee was created to judge the submissions from artists from North American as well as at least one from Europe (we don’t want to be seen as at all provincial now do we?) and a decision has been made.  The city is now getting the last of the drawings and preparing to negotiate the contract.

The In the Round submission is far more complex, and intriguing, than evident in this picture.  That globe graphic is made up of more than 15,000 small figurines.  Interesting approach but the location and the height of the art will need some consideration.

The Spiral will be 16 feet tall and include in the bronze casting artifacts from the community that could well make this one of the most intriguing pieces of art in the city.

The Cooke-Sasseville submission is certainly the most colourfull of the three.  How will the bright colours stand up to weather over the long haul?










Cobalt Connection, knows which side of its bread the butter is on,  and do everything through the city hall.  And city hall hasn’t been saying very much about this project recently.

While it is the city that is overseeing the project, the art is going to be part of the Performing Arts Centre and they’ve not said anything publicly recently either.

Much of the project is being funded by Dan Laurie, a local insurance broker, who just wants to see the art work put in place – he’s the guy paying for much of the thing and last we heard he wasn’t all that happy about the way he was being treated.

Clearly there is more to be learned about who the artist is going to be and when the art will actually be in place.  We thought the art was going to be placed on the plaza that is right outside the large glass eastern wall.  Apparently the art is going to be quite a bit closer to the street, which happens to be directly above an oil pipeline that runs through the city.  Art in front of the Performing Arts Centre is a great place.  We thought the orchids could have gone here.

More when we know more.


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2 comments to It’s not just the pier that will change the look of the city – public art in front of Performing Arts Centre is going to make a difference as well.

  • I, for one, am not overly enthused by ANY of the above works FOR Burlington. None are ABOUT Burlington: past, present or future. And, as such, none reflect a grassroots Burlington ethos.

    That said, I’m all for ‘international’ public art, but, again, it seems a bit premature to extoll other national or global efforts at this point in time here, when, overall, we do very little to promote our own accomplished ‘local’ talents. There are many who would qualify.

    The net result of the above ‘outsider’ choices is not an inspiring commission that contributes to OUR sense of who and what we are. But, rather, it becomes a generic ‘public art statement’ that could exist anywhere. And I mean, ANYwhere.
    And that seems like a HUGE lost opportunity FOR Burlington.

    If this perception makes me, and many others who do think like me, ‘provincial’, ah well, ‘tant pis’, as the expression goes. I’d much rather know and project my ROOTS, then pretend to be something I’m not nor ever will be …

    Burlington is not Toronto, Hamilton, New York, London or Paris. It is BURLINGTON – ONTARIO – CANADA – and until we do embrace and champion this unique identity we will just continue to stumble along, like a headless knee-jerking chicken, mimicking others from elsewhere.

    Come on.
    We really CAN do better.

  • James Smith

    I’m very happy & excited that Mr Laurie has shown some vision & want’s to fund Public Art in Burle. Sadly we don’t do it very well here, and while workmanlike, derivative & somewhat dull, the last two examples would at least liven up the entry to the Art Centre. In general however public art in Burlington is both oxymoronic and a failure on several levels.

    – Site selection & final locations are often ill conceived
    – The selection process is unimaginative & flawed
    – Works chosen are often pedestrian and boring
    – The implementation is often haphazard and shoddy

    We also don’t have a good track record when it comes to public art either. You mention the badly sited Orchids, the most embarrassing moment for Public Art in Burlie was the rebuff of the Keith Haring sculpture. Only Burle can turn its nose up at a $10million gift.

    Rather than challenge, improve, unite or instil civic pride, civic art in Burie often results in controversy & brings out the grumpy luddites. We need more, not less public art in Burlie, and good for Mr. Laurie. I may think any of these three choices are as lame as Robert Bateman’s work is lifeless, but at least it’s something.

    For Public Art to be successful it needs creativity,vision, and imagination for citizens to buy into it, and it needs champions. Phil GIvens took a lot of heat for bringing The Archer to Toronto City Hall, but he stood his ground. Today it is an iconic part of Toronto’s landscape, a source of pride for many and in part resulted in the late Sir Henry Moore donating a large collection of his work to AGO.

    We need such champions as Phil Givens in Burlie & I’m very happy Mr Laurie is one of them, we need more like him.