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Fur the love of beasties: Edmonton's rich tradition of animals in public art – Londoner

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The late, great Joe Fafard’s Royal Sweet Diamond (2001) on jasper Avenue.

Fish Griwkowsky / Postmedia

Permanent monuments to animals within Edmonton follow a long, long trail, going back to our beginnings.

Animal worship and awe emerges from Palaeolithic times — some of our first depictions of anything were simplifications in paint and chipped stone of the mysterious creatures around us.

Today’s Edmonton is no exception in having our own complicated set of sculptural animal mythologies, carved and cast creatures in wood, stone and bronze — even ice now that it’s winter — all easy to fall in love with. From the Chinese lions at Lucky 97 to the tucked-away beaver in Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) to the burro downstairs in City Centre Mall, they’re everywhere … once you start looking for them.

What follows is a personal-favourites checklist of animal statues. From granite bears to iron bison to bronze pronghorns — to a landlocked whale at the end of a mall — our ecosystem of animals immortalized in sculptural public art is indeed enviable.


Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer (2004) on Jasper Avenue.

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10. Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer and Royal Sweet Diamond (11214 and 11204 Jasper Ave.) — These two realistically painted heavy-lifters — a horse and a bull — are a reminder of the area’s agricultural roots, the late Fafard’s work appearing cross-country over the years including outside the National Gallery and on a series Canadian stamps. Let’s not forget paskwamostos (1999), his flat bison sculpture out behind Shaw Conference Centre — completing this unofficial triptych.


Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967) at Glenora Building, the former RAM.

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9. Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Basically a big sleepover of wonderful beasties on the east side of the former Royal Alberta Museum, this includes a mammoth, bear and bison. But it’s really the triceratops I’m crushing on here. Back in the ’60s Holmsten was paid $19,500 for this and a Human History frieze on the west side — but every cent of his prize money went to production, and was thus a true labour of love.


Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985) in West Edmonton Mall.

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8. Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985, West Edmonton Mall, Phase I, 8882 170 St.) — This would’ve ranked higher in its original spot before a sexy underwear store displaced it, when the whale still lived near the Ice Palace, and more appropriately in a fountain. Still, kudos to WEM for releasing this beloved interactive sculpture before I had to start a #savethewhale media campaign.


John Weaver’s The Pronghorns (1970) — currently hidden away inside the Glenora Building.

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7. John Weaver’s The Pronghorns at Glenora building (1970, 12845 102 Ave.) — Is something still public art if most people can’t actually get to it? The fate of the former Royal Alberta Museum is still unknown, but when asked, officials say so far the plan is to keep this incredible scene within the building (no promises). This one’s a local masterpiece — hope we can all access it again, as cattleman Ian Tyson puts it, someday soon. P.S., Weaver also made the Gretzky Statue.


Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign in (ÎNÎW) River Lot 118 Indigenous art park.

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6. Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign (2018, (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11) — This whole sculpture park is an incredible addition to the city, but my favourite piece is Barkhouse’s depiction of a hare and fox resting almost back to back. It’s a message of peace atop a band of dinosaur bones — reminding us where we all end up despite our struggles. Brilliant.


Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957) sits on the east side of City Hall.

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5. Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957, City Hall, 1 Sir Winston Churchill Sq.) — The outrage over this $16,000 modern sculpture of flying geese far exceeded panic attacks over Talus Dome. It was quickly dubbed Spaghetti Tree by haters, and even inspired a mocking novelty song. But now this gentle beauty sits with quiet dignity on the west side of City Hall, just a hop over from the Gretzky statue.


Earl Muldoe with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ‘Ksan Totem Pole (1983) at Glenora Building.

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4. Earl Muldoe (Gitxsan Master Carver) with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ’Ksan Totem Pole (1983, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Carved and raised for Universiade ’83, this red cedar log totem pole features Owl, Bear, Salmon, Raven and Frog (relating to the Gitxsan creation story), and Strong Man. You might remember WUGIE, Universiade’s owl mascot, but I like Owl here a little better — even if it didn’t get its own disco theme song pressed on 45.


Craig LeBlanc’s Henri (2010) won an international art award.

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3. Craig LeBlanc’s Henri at Terwillegar Rec Centre (2011, 15204 23 Ave.): While there are a number of lions around town, this sleeping cat suspended in a net hammock is local artist Craig LeBlanc’s masterpiece, a subtle reminder that for all our running and heavy lifting, resting is as important a part of exercise as pushing it to the limit.


Roy Leadbeater’s 1968 Rod of Asclepius at U of A Hospital is technically untitled.

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2. Roy Leadbeater’s Untitled (1968, 112 Street entrance, University of Alberta Hospital, 8440 112 St.) — This heavy-metal party snake used to hang over at the Faculty of Medicine, its double helix, exploding Maple Leaf and hissing mouth making it look like a logo for an Marvel-movie evil corporation. Rediscovering this evocative Rod of Asclepius over at U of A Hospital was pure pleasure.


One half of Brandon Vickerd’s two-statue Wildlife (2015) at 10234 96 St.

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1. Brandon Vickerd’s Wildlife (2015, 10234 96 St.) — Philosophically, there’s just so much going on with these two humanoid figures made up of animals, hanging around day and night in the Quarters. Cast in bronze, Vickerd used taxidermy animals as models for his final sculptures, and they really do comment on how urban environments are an ever-rotating system of displacement for all animals, including us.

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During these pandemic 'daze,' art an essential service – The Sudbury Star

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Article content continued

Online, the producers promise I can learn about thousands of new products, boats, accessories, and services, and receive exclusives Boat Show deals and learn plans for the summer boating season ahead.

From NYC, I signed up to connect directly. I phoned my dear colleague, former Commodore Roy Eaton, residing in Little Current. He has been the collegial, renowned Host of Hosts of the Little Current Cruiser’s Net for the past 17 years. Over the years, Roy Eaton has been written in Sail Magazine, Cruising World and in 2010, he was awarded The Canadian Safe Boating Council Volunteer of the Year, devoted to safe boating.

A seasoned sailor, Roy’s so personable, during summer boating season he’s known as the Voice of the North Channel. The Net broadcasts every morning from July 1 to Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. on VHF Channel 71.

“Roy, will you present at the Boat Show about sailing the North Shore this summer?”

“Bonnie dear,” he laughed, “I’m on as guest speaker in thirty minutes.”

I tuned in, listening to Roy speak about, Summer in Paradise — Northern Georgian Bay and the Fabled North Channel. He showed charts to boaters, sharing knowledge and tips about anchorages. I knew many of them. As a former Caribbean sailor, I learned how to navigate, became proficient, and then took on The North Channel. with help, of course.

Staying afloat is definitely artful.

The day after, the seminar coordinator told Roy; “You broke the bank yesterday. There were 532 boaters in attendance at your seminar. Since our seminars are all recorded and saved, they’ll be on the website starting Jan. 25.”

Happily listening to Roy provide knowledgeable information for boaters who hope to ply the North Shore this summer, about the anchorages, towns, places to dine, and places to hike, was absolute Northern Ontario artistry.

Our Bonnie’s been in the Window Seat for 29 years, always learning about us in Northern Ontario. Please find her at BonnieKogos@gmail.com. She loves hearing from you.

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Filipina front-line workers are turning their pandemic struggles into art – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Throughout her career, registered psychotherapist Elda Almario has spent a great deal putting the mental health of children she works with ahead of her own. But during the pandemic, she says, it’s become even less likely for her to “take a break and reflect.”

Over the past few months, Filipina front-line workers like Almario have found an outlet to relieve bottled-up anxiety, loneliness and fear: Writing their stories down and sharing them.

“Allowing space for my experience to come to the surface became a form of self-care for me,” Almario told CTVNews.ca in an email. “It was great to have a voice and be heard especially during a time when I have been so focused on my work due to increased demands and complex needs.”

The “Stories of Care” writing initiative, run through North York Community House in Toronto, virtually brings together front-line workers such as nurses, retail workers, at-home caretakers, dental hygienists, and cleaners, to share burdens they’ve mostly carried alone.

“It gives me strength, I feel encouraged because I know that no matter what we are facing, we face it with courage, resilience, and positivity and we continue to love what we do,” Olivia Dela Cruz, a paid caretaker of a household of six children, told CTVNews.ca in an email. “My respect [is for] all frontline workers because they all put others before themselves.”

Jennifer Chan, the lead organizer of the initiative, told CTVNews.ca in a video interview that the writers “feel seen and heard in a completely different way.” She said one participant told her, “it was so meaningful to get to write my story and just spend time thinking about me.”

Filipinx people play a crucial role on Canada’s front lines, making up one in 20 health-care workers, according to one study. A third of internationally trained nurses in the country are from the Philippines, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information; with Filipinos making up 90 per cent of migrant caregivers providing in-home care under Canada’s Caregiver Program.

EXPERIENCES CAPTURED IN ART

Chan was inspired to start the program through her work with North York Community House, where she regularly consults with caregivers from the Philippines, who need help filling out government documents.

She and her colleagues were noticing “a lot of stuff coming to the surface” and they wanted to give them an outlet.

“Stories of Care” began last summer as a six-week writing course for a few Filipina front-line workers, and has since grown in attendance and centred on less-time-intensive sessions.

As of last Friday, some of the stories are now featured in a digital exhibition in the DesignTO Festival, based on three Filipinx artists who “read the stories [and] took inspiration from them,” Chan said.

One video called “Balikbayan” – a term for Filipinx people living outside of the Philippines — shows a fruit falling to the ground, turning into a box, crossing the sea, hitting the shore and growing into a tree. This signifies people starting a new life in Canada. The title also refers to the care packages or “Balikbayan boxes” that are sent back to the Philippines.

Another video features an animated circle of faces encircling alternating excerpts about workers’ fears, including getting COVID-19 on the job.

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Another piece features a silhouette of a person holding a sign reading, “we love to deliver,” contrasted with alternating English and Tagalog phrases such as: “I need to sacrifice my comfort for my family,” “I didn’t want to move to Canada” and “Migration is no guarantee for a better future.”

Stories of Care

“Having artists make renditions of our stories gives us the validation that our stories are valuable,” Gretchen Mangahas, a communications specialist and newcomer to Canada, told CTVNews.ca in an email.

“I felt the power of stories in the shared lived experiences of my Filipina sisters,” she said. “I knew that I was not alone, and that the connection opens opportunities to learn how to navigate in a new country I would call home. It has also created friendships and new avenues for sharing with others.”

FILIPINX FRONT-LINE WORKERS FEEL ‘OVERSIZED TOLL’

Last fall, the Migrant Workers Alliance For Change released a damning report alleging that throughout the pandemic, migrant care workers were subjected to entrapment, long hours, and thousands of dollars in stolen wages by exploitative employers.

Chan said some writers “were feeling stuck in their employer situation” and thought about quitting, but knew it would mean they couldn’t provide for family back home and might potentially lose permanent residency status.

Medical news publication Stat News also reported that COVID-19 has taken an “outsized toll” on mental and physical well-being for Filipino front-line workers in the U.S. Chan said the same could be seen in Canada.

“They need an outlet to reflect through their own stories… we’re not hearing enough from them,” she said. Chan said attendees had a lot of cultural habits to overcome initially, including so-called “toxic positivity” and the “ongoing feeling that these women feel that they have to feel grateful to be here.”

Many worried about their families back home in the Philippines, which was hit by multiple typhoons last year. Chan said others wrote about the strict lockdown measures in the country and about “not being able to go home. Not feeling safe here or there.”

Although most people today are only being able to connect with family over video or the phone, that’s what immigrants have done for decades, said magazine editor Justine Abigail Yu, who facilitates the writing workshop in both English and Tagalog.

“Loving from afar” was a big theme in their writing, she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “Obviously the conditions are quite different on an extreme level, but we’ve always had to show our family who are living in entirely different countries how we care for them and how we love them.”

The organizers said front-line workers’ feelings of isolation and homesickness while living in Canada have only been amplified by the pandemic.

Yu, the founder of magazine Living Hyphen, created an environment where Filipina workers could open up to themselves and to others.

“So many of these caregivers and our immigrant families, we just want to survive. We move to Canada, work our asses off to get by and to make sure that we’re providing for our children and there’s no room to tell stories,” she said. Yu’s role involved “breaking down that barrier first and foremost.”

And the investment appears to have paid off.

“In more ways than one, we deeply resonated with each other’s experience,” Almario said. “I gained a sense of belongingness and community, the feeling of not being alone.”

Caregiver and single mother Dela Cruz agreed, saying being a part of this project “brings back so many memories that I thought completely forgotten. Stories about me that I never thought I will have the courage to share.”

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‘Glorified littering’: Junk street art installations popping up around Montreal – Global News

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From the Van Horne skate park in the Mile End to NDG’s Saint-Jacques Escarpment, bizarre art installations are popping up around the city.

Prowling panthers, massive abstract beasts — it’s all put together from the imagination of the artist under the pseudonym Junko.

It’s a fitting name, for all the art he creates is entirely made from miscellaneous “trash” that he finds on the street.

“Basically, they’re carefully arranged piles of garbage,” Junko said. “You can call it glorified littering.”

Read more:
Black Lives Matter street mural removed from Ste-Catherine Street

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Using things found on the street like car tires, bike frames, even shoes, everything is a workable piece in Junko’s creations.

Car bumpers are a common staple in his creatures.

“They’re definitely a popular item for me,” he said with a laugh.

Over the past few months, he has put together some six different statues around the city and abroad, all varying in size from small to towering.

A timber frame made from recycled wood holds the installations together.

“I’ve been making art my whole life,” Junko said. “My art has always been around creating creatures and characters. This is a new chapter in that.”

He says finding the junk isn’t that hard in the city but finding the right piece can be.

“Sometimes it’s extremely easy. I’ll be walking and find something and carry it home,” he said.

Read more:
Montreal’s Mile End construction project ends up on residents’ doorsteps

While shying away from the spotlight, Junko says he isn’t trying to make a point with his art, which he says speaks for itself.

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“There no deep hidden meaning, it’s just a way to expressing myself,” Junko said.

That so-called trash is getting a lot of likes and recognition on social media and on the street.

“There is a lot of art in the neighbourhood, so it’s good, I’m not against it,” resident Nick Barry-Shaw said.

Juno sees his form of expression as a legal grey zone.

“The people are into it but I’m not sure about the city, though,” Junko laughed.

Read more:
Pointe-Saint-Charles mural defaced by graffiti a chance to reconnect with community, creators say

He said that unlike graffiti, his street art is not vandalism but simply “an organized pile of trash.”

So far, all four art installations in the city have not been taken down, according to Junko.

The young artist says there is a lot more art to come and people should keep their eyes peeled.

“I’m just getting started so, yeah, you can expect more work,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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