Calgary's Coyote Ugly Art


Convivium, 24 August 2017

Father Raymond J. de Souza delivers a thoughtful essay on the purpose and patronage of public art.

Calgary – Early this month a new public art installation went up in Calgary, over by the road works on the TransCanada Highway near Canada Olympic Park. It’s called Bowfort Towers, and my first thought upon seeing it was that it was part of the jumble of metal and concrete of the construction itself.

Positioned at a key “gateway” to the city from the mountains, the installation consists of upright girders “cradling” slabs of Rundle stone, taken from the aforementioned mountain area. Supposedly it draws upon Blackfoot inspiration, employing four sets of girders honouring the Blackfoot conception of the four seasons and the four stages of life. Thankfully, it was not erected drawing upon the wisdom of the Hebrew scriptures, otherwise we might have had 7 sets of girders, or perhaps forty.

Blackfoot-inspired or not, criticism from the aboriginal community was quick. Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi was a little piqued at the bellyaching, as he doesn’t care for the implication that his administration is insufficiently progressive on matters Indian, whether of the aboriginal or immigrant variety. There had been, he huffed, proper consultation with a “traditional knowledge keeper whose expertise is in the field of Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism.”

Read more at Convivium: