The Bow Building Public Art
Client: Encana Corporation
Location: Calgary, AB
Architect: Foster + Partners
Selected Artist: Jaume Plensa
Pictured Above: Wonderland and Alberta’s Dream by Jaume Plensa, 2013. Photos courtesy of the artist.
The Bow, designed by the internationally recognized architectural firm Foster + Partners, is the new headquarters for the Encana Corporation and the first significant mixed-use development east of Centre Street in downtown Calgary. Via was hired to work with The Bow project team to assist with artist selection and project management of two significant public art opportunities, with budgets totaling more than $4 million. The goal for the public artwork is to ensure that the public spaces of The Bow are exciting gathering places during the business day and bolster the cultural revival of the area after dark. Via designed an invitational selection process with a jury made up of project design team members, project stakeholders, local artists and internationally respected arts professionals. Via worked with the selected artist, Jaume Plensa to assist with project coordination, design development and review, and fabrication.
Wonderland is the portrait of a young girl who lives in the artist’s native Barcelona. Depicting only her head, the portrait represents humanity as well as our human potential created and fostered by our dreams. The transparent mesh creates a visual bridge between Wonderland and The Bow as Plensa strives to link together art, architecture and society. Contrary to its commanding size, the sculpture’s transparency creates an ethereal sense of fragility, mirroring and celebrating the fragility of human beings. People are encouraged to enter the sculpture through openings on either side of the head, an invitation for visitors to physically experience Plensa’s metaphor of the mind being the sanctuary for dreams.
Alberta’s Dream is a self-portrait of the artist surrounding a live tree. The artists’ body is covered with names of towns and cities from the province. As the tree grows, it will grow over the figure. This seated figure with text is emblematic of Plensa’s public sculpture and this piece is made site specific by the names of places selected as a means of mapping the community onto the human form.