What is your favourite piece of public art in Regina, and why? I posed this question on my Facebook wall, expecting a few comments, but received almost 50! Reginans are passionate about public art, and everyone has an opinion. My partner, Chad, and I chose some of the most popular suggestions and went on our own public art tour on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. We started in Victoria Park. The Cenotaph is the park’s anchor, located directly in its centre. And you can’t miss the statue of John A. MacDonald on the south side near Victoria Avenue. But there’s a piece that you can easily walk by without noticing. Just south east of the Cenotaph, on a tree’s trunk and branches, you will find a colony of 17 aluminum ants. Antsee by Kim Morgan uses the insects as a metaphor for a productive community. The ants are meant to blend into the natural world – as the aluminum ages, it changes into a whitish grey that echos the colour of the tree bark. Next, we headed to the Scarth Street Mall to see Joe Fafard’s multilayered buffalo, oskana kā-asastēki. The Cree title translates to “bones that are piled together.” The plaque says, “Depending on the explanation, the name can refer to the bones of First Nations People, the bones of the Buffalo Nation, or in a more figurative sense, the bones of the land itself,” and lists examples of legends. A number of friends recommended the Elephant on 12th Avenue outside of the Regina Public Library. I remember admiring the intricate steel structure every time I went to the library when I was younger. It truly is magical. On to City Hall! There are a number of pieces of art there, but front and centre is Stephan Braithwaite and Douglas Bamford’s Regina Lace, a public art project that uses the histories of community members as a tribute to our city’s cultural vitality. It consists of two parts: on the west side is a large steel panel filled with stories and poetry. My favourite quote is:
"cold weather awaits those who come warm hearts abound to welcome"
On the east side are eight bronze figures cast from living members of the community, representing a variety of cultural backgrounds and walks of life. The statues are half-cast, so you can walk around them to see the impression the bodies made on the other side of the bronze. Leaving downtown, we visited Wilf Perreault’s Reginald the Grasshopper on the corner of Albert Street and Leopold Crescent. This is a popular one among my friends, many of whom know Reginald by name. Like Antsee, this piece incorporates the natural world, with bushes growing inside and through the sculpture in the summer. In the winter, it’s decorated with festive lights. At the University of Regina College Avenue Campus is an unassuming concrete frog that holds nostalgia for those who remember climbing on it as kids. It was created by Joe Fafard’s Art 100 class in 1971, as a tribute to David Gilhooly, an artist who had previously taught at the U of R. You can read about the history of the frog in this article. Next, we hit Wascana Park to see Ron Baird’s The Honouring Tree, which was created in 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the settlement of people of African ancestry to Regina. The sculpture contains a multitude of small and large stars to represent equality, diversity and hope for all residents. We then visited the piece voted by readers of the prairie dog as our city’s Best Public Art in a 2014 poll: Joe Fafard’s cow, calf and bull outside the MacKenzie Art Gallery on Albert Street. Not many know that these animals actually have names: Potter, Valadon and Teevo. They’re arranged like a little family, with the calf teetering on its new legs between its mom and dad. We ended our tour at the University of Regina main campus with Joe Fafard’s Le jardin de l’esprit, or Mind’s Garden, a structure that is 11.5 feet high and 35 feet in diameter and located just north of the Administration Humanities Building. This meditative piece is a veritable treasure hunt of images, where you notice something new each time you go. You’ll find everything from a Canada Goose to an Inuit hunter to a farmer, and everything in between. Fafard wants the viewer become the creator of the work by imagining what the images represent. It was such a great experience to appreciate some of the public art that we walk or drive by each day. How about you? What’s your favourite piece of public art, and why? All photos and rights reserved by Chad Mario