Last night I had some time before heading to the Palomino club to hear some some indie bands, so I decided to head over to the Norman Foster designed Bow office tower to checkout Calgary's newest public artwork - Alberta's Dream by Jaume Plensa.
Unlike Wonderland the huge 12 meter ghost-like head that dominates the grand entrance to Calgary's largest and tallest office building, "Alberta's Dream" is an intimate sculpture tucked away at the back of the building. "Alberta's Dream" is a self-portrait cast of Plensa hugging a real tree. The bronze sculpture is covered with the names of numerous Alberta communities with Edmonton being across the chest and Calgary across the back.
The piece is loaded with social and political references. It has already been renamed by the security guard who called it "The Tree Hugger" when I asked him where the new artwork was. Alberta can hardly be called a "Tree Hugger" province. I can already hear the environmentalists having fun with this artwork.
And then there is the strategic placement of various Alberta city names on the body with Edmonton being across the heart and Calgary the backbone - coincidence?
Unfortunately, Alberta's Dream and Wonderland don't speak to each other. I think it would have been interesting to have them both on the front plaza so they could visually play off of each other visually and intellectually. But then again maybe there is a message in the fact that these polar opposite views of Alberta and Calgary's sense of place/importance are on opposite sides of the building?
The two pieces will be a catalyst for conversation, which is what public art is all about!
Learn more about Calgary's contemporary architecture in my earlier blog: Calgary: North America's newest "Design" city
I thought I would add a couple of pics of Wonderland the other Plensa artwork to provide context for the two very different pieces of art he has created for one of Calgary's signature urban design projects. Calgary is quickly becoming one of the more interesting "Design Cities" of the 21st century.