Best public art in Vancouver in 2014

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2014 was another banner (and mural and sculpture) year for public art in Vancouver.

This year, the streets of Vancouver were filled with pianos for anyone to play, we held on to our love of “love locks,” and we had lots of fun with signs. There were some controversial farewells to a couple of murals, too. Public art seemed to get bigger (like concrete silo sized) and bolder (like a naked Satan with a prominent penis).

Here are our picks for the best public art in Vancouver in 2014.

“Gumhead”

Gumhead Douglas Coupland Vancouver Art Gallery

Image: Kenneth Chan/Vancity Buzz

The Vancouver Art Gallery asked Douglas Coupland for a site-specific piece of art to adorn the grassy mound outside the building on Howe Street. He gave them, and Vancouverites, a seven-foot tall piece Coupland described as “a gum-based, crowd-sourced, publically interactive, social-sculpture self-portrait.” So, basically, it was a giant head, covered in everyone’s chewed gum. Sadly this magnet for the curious (and germs) overstayed its temporary welcome, and has since left the lawn.

“Giants”

OSGEMEOS-01

Image: roaming-the-planet / Vancouver Biennale

As part of the Vancouver Biennale, Brazilian identical twins and street artists OSGEMEOS turned the massive concrete silos of Granville Island into a stunning, colourful piece of public art. The scope of the project–and the high cost of public art overall–found the Bienale using crowdfunding to make the mega mural a reality.

The “Penis Satan”

devil penis statue vancouver

Image: Vancity Buzz

A pedestal at Grandview Highway and Clark that once held a brass Christopher Columbus spent a few glorious hours in early September as the home of a giant, bright red Satan statue. The statue was erected by an anonymous artist, who bestowed the devilish interloper with a rather prominent penis. The City swooped in and took down the Penis Satan, and, not surprisingly, there was public outcry for its return.

Penguin in Sunglasses

penguin-statue

Image: Vancity Buzz

The “Penis Satan” did not pop-up again on the pedestal, but in an altogether charming replacement offering, a penguin in sunglasses appeared thanks to another guerrilla endeavour. This adorable guy looked to have come from an Earls restaurant, from an older era of quirky decor at the chain.

“Make it Rain”

makeitrain-02

Image via Kickstarter

The historic Gastown Steam Clock had to take an off-site hiatus for a tune-up, so a duo of artists proposed a temporary replacement that would take advantage of the unique amenity offered by the location: Steam. With a successfully funded campaign and some City fast-tracking, “Make it Rain,” a cloud chamber or “reflective tube of awesomeness” was brought in to hold the Steam Clock’s place.

The “Rainblossom Project”

Rainblossom project red umbrella

Image: Justin Kenneth Rowley / Flickr

The “Rainblossom Project,” a citizen-spurred initiative created as an visual ode to our wet, rainy climate, first cropped up at Spanish Banks after a snowfall earlier this year, and the stark white background made the red umbrellas strung from trees really pop. A second installation outside the Vancouver Art Gallery revived the “Rainblossom Project,” where many people had the chance to check out the umbrellas.

“Love Your Bean”

Vancouver Biennale Jelly Bean Love Your Bean

Image: Kenneth Chan / Vancity Buzz

“Love Your Bean,” is a trio of enormous jelly beans – yellow, blue and red – designed by Canadian sculptor and filmmaker Cosimo Cavallaro. The beans were installed this summer at the False Creek seawall as part of the Vancouver Biennale.

“Deadhead”

deadhead-01

Image: Stephen Rees/Flickr

You may have seen a curious barge floating around the waters off Vancouver’s shores this summer and wondered what the heck it was. Turns out it was a piece of art called “Deadhead.” The barge-mounted large-scale sculpture was touring the area at the behest of the Vancouver Maritime Musuem, at times doubling for a post-apocalyptic party boat for special events.

“Jump for Joy”

jump-for-joy-05

Image: Lindsay William-Ross / Vancity Buzz

Photographer Eyoälha Baker’s “Jump For Joy” project showcases her vibrant images of people springing into the air. The mural covers a wall in an alley at 161 E. Pender just west of Main Street––an area that surely benefits from the colourful, uplifting interjection of joyous expression.

“Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks”

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre

Image: Bret Hartman/TED

Janet Echelman’s 745-foot long aerial sculpture “Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks,” was suspended between the 24-storey Fairmont Waterfront Hotel tower and the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre as part of the TED conference. “Skies Painted” hung out for a while this March. In the daytime, the sculpture blended in with the clouds and sky, but by night came alive through projector-generated illumination. Spectators could use their mobile devices to “choreograph” the lights.

Honourable mention: The “Dude Chilling Park” sign

dude-chilling-park-sign

Image: roaming-the-planet/Flickr

2014 was a rough year for the jokey-but-serious sign at Guelph Park. In February, the City installed the sanctioned “Dude Chilling Park” sign, two years after the original sign cropped up. (Dude Chilling gets its name from the wooden reclining sculpture that’s long been at the park.) The sign fell prey to vandals not once, but twice, and then disappeared altogether.

 

Featured image uses “Bring Back Vancouver’s Beloved Penis Satan Statue” via Kickstarter

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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