Art installation a nod to the glory days of the railway - Calgary Herald - Canada News Media
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Art installation a nod to the glory days of the railway – Calgary Herald



Local developer Gerald Knowlton has developed a railway park and public piece of art, along with restoring a CP caboose, in the town of Standard. Here Knowlton is seen admiring the station he was born in.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy / Calgary

Many successful business people also have a keen interest in a hobby, offering relaxation from their difficult daily tasks.

Some find pleasure in collecting. For others, building landscapes for model trains is rewarding, but Gerald Knowlton prefers the full-scale rolling stock as an homage to the railways that helped build this country.

He has a fine model train set and wonderful railway memorabilia. But Knowlton likes full-scale, where he can climb aboard and relive his childhood in the station at Standard, which led to his development of Champion Park in Okotoks and his significant donation of a public art piece in the newly opened Memory Lane Park in Standard.

Formed and named as a hub for CP trains, Standard is a small farming community about 80 kilometres east of Calgary.

Knowlton grew up in the Standard railway station and moved to Calgary in 1960 after graduating from the University of Western Ontario. He began working for C.H. Noton but, by 1961, he had brought together some partners and purchased the firm, renaming it Knowlton Realty in 1962.

Over more than 30 years, he built his company from a one-office, $125,000-a-year operation to a five-office national firm handling more than $100 million worth of real estate every year.

He was responsible for transforming a collection of properties in Calgary’s downtown into the two towers that became home to Petro-Canada — now known as Suncor Energy Centre — and for creating a similar development that resulted in Bow Valley Square.

He says he was fortunate to be in the “right place at the right time,” but he was the visionary “right man” who took over the young company in 1965.

He sold the company in 1995 and established Congress Inc. in 2001 to oversee and enhance the Knowlton’s investments, but he also sought opportunities on behalf of a consortium of investors and remained involved in office and retail developments.

His successes enabled him to pursue his railway interests, and he set about developing the 54-acre Champion Park south of the city as an homage to CP and the former station agent at Standard, his father, Ted Knowlton, who served in that capacity for 42 years.

The old Standard station had been demolished, but Knowlton was able to transport a similar station from Champion, about 150 kilometres south of Calgary, that was built in 1911 and restored at Champion Park in 1980.

Gifted to the town of Okotoks and Foothills County in 2016, besides the fully equipped station the park features other period buildings including the section house, ice house, bunk house, outhouse and a number of huts and a tool shed.

Rolling stock includes the 60-foot-long Saskatchewan executive car, engine, boxcar, stock car and several cabooses.

The caboose Knowlton found in Leader, SK, that he fully restored to its CP glory inside and out.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /


CP had also donated a strip of land to the Village of Standard in 1923 to be developed as a park, but it wasn’t until 2015 that The Standard Community Facility Enhancement Society was formed to develop the space for the pleasure of its residents and to offer an interesting permanent display to attract visitors.

A sense of the historical role of Memory Lane meant the railway had to play a big part, and the society contacted the son of the former station agent to participate and support the venture.

Knowlton, who lived in the station until leaving for university, has been a driving force behind another full-scale exhibit that includes a public art installation of the station, platform and track, and a majestic caboose.

The Vanish Station design and construction is thanks to Knowlton’s grandson and Ted Knowlton’s great grandson, Vancouver-based architect Spencer Purdy, and structural engineer Patrick Wallain, whose company Exhibau creates and stages events worldwide for clients such as Nike, BMW and TED.

Vanish Station is a pieve of art that shows the former railway station disappearing as one walks or drives past it.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /


Before studying architecture at the University of Southern California, Purdy lived in the Calgary area and for three years in the station now at Champion Park. In his youth, he also spent time in Standard during visits with his grandfather and from both experiences learned of the importance of the station as a hub for the village; sending off shared goods from farm and ranch, sending off young folks in search of a future, and bringing in coveted products not available locally.

Standard Mayor Alan Larsen says he remembers excitedly waiting at the railway station for his first bike — ordered from the Eaton’s catalogue — to arrive on the train.

Purdy wanted the new station to be of its current era while still referencing and honouring the design of the original station. The newly erected Vanish Station is built in a series of panels printed with the original 1909 elevations arranged at a 45-degree angle. The alignment of the panels offers two ever-changing views allowing visitors to experience the station and beyond — what stood and what vanished in one installation.

While this was being planned and designed with input from the village, Knowlton searched throughout Western Canada for a suitable caboose to sit on tracks by the station platform. He found the perfect equipment in Leader, Sask., that he purchased, had shipped to Standard and had refurbished and repainted as not only true CP rolling stock but a facility that can be used as a meeting place for village events, surrounded by picnic area, benches, shelters and landscaping along the 1.1-kilometre pathway.

In honouring the CP and Ted Knowlton, the family and townsfolk have provided a commemorative display that will be enjoyed both by locals and tourists. The hope and intent of the project is that people of all generations will be encouraged to visit Standard to learn from the past and enjoy the present at modern Vanish Station.

Gerald Knowlton still has a passion for railroads and has enjoyed many train rides all over the world, but the CP is in his blood and he’s excited to show off his salute to its history in Alberta.

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City of Nanaimo announces 10 new pieces of temporary outdoor public art – Nanaimo News Bulletin



Ten new pieces of public art are coming to Maffeo Sutton Park and McGregor Park this year.

On Jan. 21 the City of Nanaimo announced in a press release the works that have been selected as part of the 2020 Temporary Outdoor Public Art Program. The pieces will be installed in May during Public Art Week.

The nine pieces of public art heading to Maffeo Sutton Park are: Joy in the Life and Balance by Joanne Helm, a bronze Daschund balancing on a steel pipe; Sea Bed by Peter Achurch, a weaving made from found marine rope hung from a wooden frame with a steel spring mattress as its armature; The Fossil Laughs by Steve Milroy, a metal sculpture that depicts a face when viewed head-on; Jardiniere by Deryk and Samuel Houston, a wire mesh sculpture holding blue glass flowers; Name your dog! by Joel Prevost, a concrete dog sculpture; Not Out of the Woods by Marc Walter, a flat whale sculpture made from recycled and reclaimed branches; Untitled by Troy Moth, a three-legged wooden sculpture; and two pieces by artist Maggie Wouterloot: History Needs a Rewrite, A resin-cast moose skull decorated with cave paintings and etchings; and Our Common Ancestor, a fibreglass fish with legs.

The lone piece to be featured at McGregor Park is Out From Out Where: Beyond Liminality by Bryan Faubert, a laser-cut steel archway with images cut into the steel that become visible when light shines through.

“I hope everyone will make sure to see these amazing examples of our vibrant art community’s talent and creativity” said Mayor Leonard Krog in a press release.

According to a staff report, the city received 36 proposals from 22 artists or groups of artists from across North America. The pieces cost $28,000 and $2,000 will be spent on installation and maintenance.

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Art Nouveau – The New York Times



WEDNESDAY PUZZLE — I don’t know about you, but I love themes that seem deceptively simple on the surface and, upon further examination, yield layers of fun things to discover. It’s like digging for buried treasure.

The first surprise, for me, was seeing Alex Eaton-Salners’s byline on a Wednesday. Yes, he’s “hit for the cycle” (if you are just joining us, “hitting for the cycle” means that a constructor has had at least one puzzle published on every day of the week), but I think of Mr. Eaton-Salners primarily as a tricky Thursday constructor; roughly half of the crossword puzzles he has had published in The New York Times have been on that day.

That doesn’t mean that there can’t be twists or layers to a Wednesday puzzle. Once again, Mr. Eaton-Salners has pulled off a theme that is more than just wading pool deep.

47A. Really well-written clue, the kind that makes me think and then laugh out loud when I get it. “Art nouveau?” is interesting. You might expect the answer to be in French because of the word “nouveau” in the clue — remember the matching languages rule of solving — but it’s not. It is, however, misdirection, from the Art Nouveau style to a word that is the modern (or “nouveau”) version of “art” (as in “Where art thou?”). The modern version of “art” is ARE.

6D. IRENIC means “promoting peace.”

11D. “Moving targets for waves” sounds as if we are being asked to think about surfing or swimming, but this clue is about sound waves, and the moving targets are CAR ANTENNAS.

43D. I had GARMENT before RAIMENT, but REINAS at 43A convinced me otherwise.

56D. Watch those question marks. “Bar code?” is not those black and white codes on packaging, at least not in this puzzle. It is the code followed by those who have passed the bar, and that would be the LAW.

What an oddly-shaped array of circled squares. What could they mean? (It’s fairly easy to see what the shape is, but we’ll get to that in a moment.)

As a veteran Monopoly player — some of my games have been going on since 1982 — the first theme answer that I got was BALTIC Avenue at 34A. That last letter is circled. Huh. I guess I’ll have to solve all the others in order to figure out what these circled squares mean.

Or, I can just skip down to the revealer at 57A. The answer to the clue “Result of connecting the circled letters in a certain way, in a punny manner of speaking” is SEVEN SEAS or rather “seven C’s.”

In other words, the seven circled C’s not only form the shape of the number 7, but each of the theme entries containing those C’s is the name of a SEA, clued as something completely different.

How’s that for layered?

There’s not a lot that’s new (or GNU, as in 39A) here, but sometimes “fresh” is not the point. Mr. Eaton-Salners presents his idea very cleverly here, and I liked it very much. He was obviously very constrained and yet he managed to pull this off in a very elegant way. Also, the clues are razor sharp, which added to my enjoyment of the puzzle.

Conquering complex constraints compels careful crossword construction.

Here, the hardest thing to get right was the shape of the “7” created by the seven C’s. Only a few well-known seas have a “C” in them. And, the location of the C’s within those seas are fixed. Thus, it took many iterations to whip this puzzle into shape (hah!).

Of course, there’s still always flexibility. I originally submitted a grid with CASPIAN and CHINA swapped and with BLACK one row lower. That version had some limiting fill constraints (e.g., _ _ LN in the upper right from CORAL and CASPIAN), and I had to rework the puzzle to remove them.

That said, the current configuration is still pretty constrained. There are three Downs (BEANIE, ROBOTIC and RELEASE DATE) that intersect three theme entries and 10 more that intersect two theme entries. And in four of those 10, the two fixed letters are consecutive (which are typically harder).

I’m lucky that SEVEN SEAS and CARIBBEAN are the same length and that CARIBBEAN is a good candidate for the top-left point of the 7 glyph, which means SEVEN SEAS can be symmetrically placed as a revealer. If that hadn’t worked out, I would have used a stacked SEVEN/SEAS revealer in the lower-right corner.

If you ever visit Horseshoe Falls, allow plenty of time to find parking. When we went, all the lots were full and it took quite some doing to find an open space. Unfortunately, we had a flight to catch that afternoon, so we could only run to the falls, take a quick peek and then hustle back to the car. Next time, I’d like to meander over to the Canadian side, check out the Cave of the Winds viewing area behind Bridal Veil Falls and ride the Maid of the Mist.

Almost finished solving but need a bit more help? We’ve got you covered.

Warning: There be spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.

Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

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What does it take to make art green? –



Where there are people, there will be trash. So let’s say you’re walking some rainforest trail on Vancouver Island, and your boot crunches down on a beer can or protein-bar wrapper. Would Captain Planet’s teachings kick in? Would you pocket that junk and bin it later? Or would you keep hiking, trusting nature will eventually absorb that trash into its mossy bosom. What’s 500 years or so, give or take?

Alex Stewart, however, is a guy who squats for litter, and the B.C. artist says he doesn’t hit the woods without a garbage bag. He makes art for people who might not be as Planeteer-ingly minded as he is, and since 2018, the Fort Langley resident’s been hiding his paintings in popular hiking trails around the West Coast, stencilling portraits of mysterious sirens on dead stumps and logs.

Made with biodegradable paints, the images are designed to fade away in a matter of weeks. “A lot of people walk through the trail systems, at least here, and they’ll walk by a piece of garbage and not pick it up,” says Stewart. “This is a way to get people to engage more with the environment and maybe think a little bit more about it.”

One of Alex Stewart’s outdoor paintings. (Alex Stewart)

That said, there’s an awful lot of thinking going on already. Art about the environment, about climate change — about however you’d care to phrase imminent global catastrophe: even in a strictly Canadian context, there’s plenty.

Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky released not just an award-winning documentary but also a touring museum exhibition on the subject (Anthropocene). When it comes to environmental disaster, there is Canadian literature (Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy) and dance (Glaciology) and poetry (Alice Major, Welcome to the Anthropocene). Grimes has been teasing a concept album on the subject (Miss Anthropocene) for a year. And sure as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing, there will be more. Just last week, the Canada Council of the Arts‘ Director and CEO Simon Brault wrote that the Council will be “looking to take a solid and consistent position on the issue of climate change” as they finalize a new five-year plan.

Like just about everything, spreading awareness isn’t without an environmental cost. Maybe the end occasionally justifies the carbon-spewing means. Few pieces have generated global attention like Olafur Eliasson’s Ice Watch, for instance — a large-scale installation that he’s staged in major cities since 2014. Using ice harvested from an arctic fjord, bergs are installed in public squares, left to melt as a real-time reminder of climate change.

At the launch of its last iteration in London, one reporter asked: “What is the carbon footprint?” And the answer was as monumental as you’d expect. Even working with an environmental non-profit in staging the piece, hauling 30 icebergs from Greenland to London required international flights, boats, cranes, transport trucks — all-in-all, 55 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Ice Watch, an art installation by Olafur Eliasson, on display outside the Pantheon in Paris, Dec. 3, 2015. The project was presented during the World Climate Change Conference 2015. (Getty Images)

On an individual level, the price of making art is usually a little less dramatic than Fed-Ex-ing icebergs to the U.K. — but is it possible to create with environmental themes if you’re not striving to live and work sustainably yourself?

“I think it’s better to live what you’re trying to portray,” says Stewart. “At least for me, it feels more true to my art and myself.”

In his case, he had started taking a closer look at his materials before starting his forest project (it’s called Preserve and Protect). Could he avoid using paints with toxic chemical ingredients? (In his studio work, he goes with a petroleum-free spraypaint made with sugarcane.) Instead of buying canvas, he reduces waste — and saves some cash — by painting on discarded wood. And now, for his outdoor pieces, he mixes his own paints using a special biodegradable blend of egg yolk, water and store-bought “all-natural pigments.” A similar project, by international street artist Hula, got him started, and he’s now creating one or two of his forest murals every month, documenting their gradual fade-out in photos.

“If I wasn’t taking steps to be more environmental and sustainable, I don’t know if I would have even stumbled into making the art that I am now if it wasn’t already part of my life.”

Embracing the 3R’s requires a seemingly overwhelming list of questions. Are your materials toxic? (Apps like Giki, a sort of tricorder for household products, can help with the research.) What are the consequences involved in cleanup? (The Richmond Art Centre, for instance, banned glitter. Like all microplastics, the stuff’s disastrous when it gets into the water.) How about the supplier’s track record: does it have reputation for sustainable practices? Can you work from home instead of commuting? And is that studio of yours solar powered? Wind powered? Equipped with LED bulbs to save energy?

I think it’s better to live what you’re trying to portray. At least for me, it feels more true to my art and myself.– Alex Stewart, artist

For Montreal-based artist Kelly Jazvac, trying to maintain a sustainable art practice is challenging. “There’s an emphasis on try,” she laughs, but Jazvac is committed to avoiding new materials. She’ll hit up Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse, for example — a local resource that collects and distributes all sorts of donated items, art supplies included.

Not every community has something like it, but Jazvac chooses second-hand over store-bought. Sticking to found materials can be a “slow and dirty” process, she says, and she’s mindful of what’s involved in showing her art, too. Jazvac says she’s cutting down on work travel. When installing at a gallery, she insists on avoiding typical trimmings and requests that items be sourced locally where possible instead of shipped. A fresh coat of paint, for example, would be another no-go.

“To me, the really exciting part about being an artist is that I can make anything!” she says. “So why not put those additional parameters on my approach to see what happens?” And she’s been operating within a few eco-friendly constraints for a little more than a decade.

In that time, she’s built a reputation for working with discarded plastic, usually enormous swaths of vinyl — the same sticky industrial sheets used for billboards and even the posters and punched-out letters stuck on gallery walls. (A museum just gave her a fresh batch, she says. “Hey, we’re done with this. Kelly might like it!” she laughs.) She’s frequently employed the enticingly glossy stuff in sculptural pieces that poke at themes of conspicuous consumption.

Kelly Jazvac. Upgrade. 1998 Pontiac Sunfire, printed adhesive vinyl, plastic, Plexiglas, sealant, 2007. (Kelly Jazvac)


Jazvac stumbled on the medium while developing a project for the Toronto Sculpture Garden in 2007. She was out to transform a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire into a Porsche. The plan: wrap the Y2K era’s favourite starter car in a supersized sticker.

“There’s obviously some content about consumerism and planned obsolescence in that project,” she says, “but at the same time that I was making it, I was looking at the waste I was generating myself in that process.” She was working alongside her printers, and she was stunned by the garbage the shop would crank out. “The dumpster was full with what looked, to my artist eyes, like a rainbow of a painter’s palette — all these different colours of, essentially, stickers.”

As Jazvac kept returning to the material, she eventually started further research on plastics, and she’s now part of a team of artists and scientists (The Synthetic Collective) that investigates the cultural and environmental impact of plastic waste. They’re currently planning an exhibition for the Art Museum at the University of Toronto that’s set to open this fall. (“We’re trying to be as sustainable as possible in the making of that show,” she says. At the moment, she says they’re developing a plan for solar power.)

Kelly Jazvac. Pluck. Salvaged vinyl. 2015. (Kelly Jazvac)

It’s the kind of problem-solving Judy Major-Girardin has been teaching for years at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Every art class at McMaster is green, she says. A little more than 10 years ago, the department began replacing toxic materials — chemical paint-thinners like Varsol, for instance — in an effort to green the classroom. At the time, they were looking for ways to improve student health and safety. Now, they offer a studio art course with a focus on “environmentally responsible” production, one of 60+ “sustainability-themed” courses offered across the school’s various departments.

“For us, it means to question everything we’re doing — whether it’s buying products, the things that we use, how we dispose of things, and also the concepts that are being explored in classes,” she says. The idea is that students will keep asking those questions beyond graduation. “We’re setting habits,” she says. “Those habits just automatically continue because students get used to thinking in that particular way. They don’t get used to having turpentine readily available, or whatever it happens to be.”

To me, the really exciting part about being an artist is that I can make anything! So why not put those additional parameters on my approach to see what happens?– Kelly Jazvac, artist

As McMaster started going green, Major-Girardin set new habits for herself. “I’ve always tried to connect my art with nature in some way,” she says, and wetlands imagery regularly surfaces in her work. For her most recent printmaking project, she decided to eliminate paper, reusing fabric instead. She’s appliqued the images together by hand.

“There’s something about just the idea of sewing and mending that I think captures the concept of nature, caring for nature.”

Limitations can be freeing. That’s the philosophy in the classroom, she says. “We approach it as new materials, new processes we’re going to teach you, new opportunities that are going to expand your practice.”

It’s a mindset that can apply beyond the studio, says Jazvac. “These are really urgent times,” she says. “I think it’s important that everyone is asking these questions right now.”

“I don’t think artists are the only group that should be looking really closely at what they do, but absolutely we’re a model.”

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