New Bronson Avenue public art unveiled

by Charles Akben-Marchand

The artwork for the Bronson Avenue reconstruction project has been selected.

Instead of having a series of smaller art pieces along the sidewalk, like the intricate statuettes on Preston Street in Little Italy, the chairs on Bank Street in the Glebe, or the marble hydrants on Wellington Steet West, Bronson Avenue’s art budget was pooled to create two larger installations.

One of these will be installed on the roof of the entrance at the Bronson Centre, and the other will be an “art fence” along Bronson Avenue at Gladstone, along the lawn bowling site. This will adjoin the stub of Florence Street which has been used as a staging area during the Bronson Avenue renewal project, and which will be turned into parkland following the reconstruction project.

At an open house held in November at the Bronson Centre, members of the public were invited to view maquettes of each proposal, speak to the artists, and provide feedback to the review panel who have since made their selections.

Tim desClouds’ wonderful piece, “Sit for a While, In the Garden, and Watch the Parade,” will run along Bronson Avenue near Gladstone where the lawn bowling club is now. It includes a giant layered tree on a fence with cutout figurines, and the fence pickets will be bent to create seating inside the fence itself.

Tim is the person who did the chairs along Bank Street in the Glebe, and he actually submitted an unsuccessful entry for the Bronson Centre location which included brightly coloured figurines reminiscent of the Glebe work.

Instead, for that location, Andrew O’Malley’s piece, “Community Channel,” was selected. It involves a number of larger-than-life silhouettes made of aluminium and acrylic on top of the Bronson Centre’s entrance. These figurines, for the first few months at least, will be illuminated by LED lights that will change colours according to a pre-programmed sequence.
I say “for the first few months” because light-based artwork tends not to function for very long in Ottawa and there is never any money for its maintenance—the sound-based piece at City Hall’s Laurier entrance has been broken for a decade and won’t be fixed anytime soon.

The other submissions, by artists Cairn Cunnane, cj fleury, Detlef Gotzens, and Josée Dubeau, were summarized shortly after the open house by Eric Darwin on West Side Action (westsideaction.wordpress.com) and by the Ottawa Citizen’s arts blogger Peter Simpson (ottawacitizen.com/bigbeat).

For more information on the Bronson Avenue reconstruction project, visit ottawa.ca/bronson.

The original version of this article appeared in 3D on Images of Centretown.