The Places Vision
“The vision of many different people working together toward common goals is catching on,” says Eric Newell, Honourary Lifefime Member of the Edmonton Business Council for the Visual Arts. “And, as we continue to move forward, it’s become obvious that the benefits of the Art & Design In Public Places Program will be widely shared and will last for generations.”

The Places Summary
In cooperation with the City of Edmonton and pursuant to the Capital City Downtown Plan (1997), Art & Design in Public Places (The Places) was first introduced by the Edmonton Business Council for Visual Arts (The Council) in 1998. Subsequently, the development of the program was more than a year in the making and was launched in November 1999 as a community based, multi-partner initiative designed to help revitalize Edmonton’s downtown through the placement of publicly and privately funded works of art and design.

Recognizing that urban beautification enhances the overall environment in which residents live and work, The Places improves social and economic conditions in the community by introducing art and design projects each year. The Places raises the profile and livability of Downtown and is used as a model for other areas of the City, increasing attractiveness for business, residents, and tourists alike.

The Downtown Business Association is the Host Organization for The Places under the Capital City Downtown Plan with The Works International Visual Arts Society (The Society) providing Executive Directorship for the overall program. Mechanisms are in place to encourage community involvement, overall transparency and accountability in the selection of art and design projects for development. Artists or designers are awarded commissions after local, provincial or national competitions are held. The Places partners with the Edmonton Arts Council as required in the review and selection of the competition entries through a two-stage community jury process. The Works Society provides Project Management and contracts the successful artist or designer to complete the commissions.

Funding and Partners Overview and Project Update

The Places has surpassed its initial goal of completing 15 projects (2.3 million value) in a 5-year period and has now raised over 6.368 million in funding invested into The Places (cash and in kind contributions) developing over 54 projects.  The Founding and Ongoing Partners for The Places include The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal, the Downtown Business Association and The Edmonton Business Council for Visual Arts.

The Places multi-partner initiative completed 9 new works of art and design in 2011-12.

“Stripedscape” by Grace Law is now featured on the south-facing wall of Ital-Canadian Meats Ltd. at 10757 – 95 Street in the McCauley BRZ. This 8 by 30 foot mural, as the artist describes, “is a colourful scene that embodies the diversity of the area that is so close to the heart of the city of Edmonton. Stripes of colour are often used to represent cooperation, peace, diversity, and a promise made– all of these qualities are what I think of while I paint a band of colour".

In Louise McKinney Park, artist Leah Dorion’s “Turtle Rock Effigy” combines a First Nations turtle rock effigy with a Celtic labyrinth as a symbolic representation of the bringing together of the First Nations and European cultures on Turtle Island (North America) in this interactive artwork. This artwork made of rocks invites visitors to walk the path of the labyrinth, a meditative practice that allows for the greeting of each of the four directions. The artist, staff, and volunteers created this work at The Works Art & Design Festival 2010. It joins The Places Public Art Walking Tour in 2011.

The Places partnered with the Homelessness Commission to create design installations from their “No Longer With Us” campaign. The human-sized silhouettes made of text telling the success stories of formerly homeless individuals supported by the Homeless Commission were featured amongst the trees on Churchill Square during The Works Art & Design Festival 2011 and at The Council’s The Works Gala 2011.

Installed summer 2011, The Downtown Art Banner project is comprised of 299 art banners featuring 19 Edmonton artists’ imagery across Jasper Avenue (97 St – 109 St), 104 Street (100 Ave – 104 Ave), and Rice Howard Way (101A Ave and 100A St, Shoctor Alley). Jasper Avenue art banners feature a poem by 2009-11 Edmonton Poet Laureate Roland Pemberton (Cadence Weapon) entitled “Monuments: The City in Three Parts”.

A second banner project installed this year is the Beaver Hills House Park Banner Project. The fourth sculptural banner project downtown, these unique metal banners in Beaver Hills House Park. The imagery is entitled “7 Northern Beavers” by Edmonton Cree artist Jason Carter celebrates the Cree heritage of this park at Jasper Avenue and 105 Street and of Edmonton.

The Places continued its sixth year of The Sculpture By Invitation Program, which, through an open call to Edmonton and Capital Region Artists/Sculptors, currently featuring three sculptures within the three niches of the Shaw Conference Centre DREAM.big Plaza entitled “Point of View” by Katherine Sicotte.  

 With the support of the TELUS Edmonton Community Foundation, three large glass panel murals were installed at the south end of Immigration Hall at 10534 - 100 Street. Artist Pedro Rodriguez De Los Santos created the imagery featured in the murals through collaborative workshops held during The Works Art & Design Festival, 2010; Alberta Arts Days, 2010; & the Heart of the City Festival, 2010. the murals are a celebration of Alberta's immigrant community, which welcomes new Canadians into Edmonton as they visit and live in Immigration Hall.

The Places educational initiatives to date include: a total of 143 Scholarships awarded annually at The Council’s Gala; a total of twenty Internships have been completed under The Places Internship Program, under the direction of the Executive Director, a Lecture Series introducing national and international artists, designers and architects to Edmonton audiences; Conferences and Symposia; Temporary Public Art Installations; and a year-round, self-guided, Public Art Walking Tour featuring a selection of works of art and design produced by The Places.