Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Vancouver Public Art

Captain George Vancouver Statue
Bronze statue of Captain George Vancouver
by artist Charles Marega,
installed in 1936 on north side of Vancouver City Hall

You can find public art throughout the city of Vancouver, British Columbia - at civic buildings, in parks and public spaces, on street corners, in transit shelters, on walls and fences, in community gardens, and places of business. The city has a strong Public Art Program that views public art as a integral component of anything the city builds. It works with artists, communities, and private developers. The program supports permanent and temporary installations, providing an ever-changing landscape of public art. 

During my visits to Vancouver over the last few years, I've seen a small but fascinating sample of Vancouver's public art, a combination of Public Art Program installations and other initiatives.

The Drop
The Drop by inges idee at Vancouver Convention Centre.
Installed in 2009, it represents a raindrop's descent at moment of contact.

Orca Fountain
Orca Fountain in Discovery Square outside Burrard Station

Solar Bike Tree
Solar Bike Tree at Science World is part sculpture and part bicycle rack.
The treetop has motion-sensored, solar-powered lights.

Sidewalk mosaics
Sidewalk mosaics outside Main Street/Science World Skytrain stop

The Birds
One of The Birds by Myfanwy MacLeod in Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza.
That artist states that placing the 18 feet tall sparrows in an urban plaza and inverting the normal relationship
between the small birds and the human population "highlights what has become the 'natural' environment of
the sparrow, it also reinforces the 'small' problem of introducing a foreign species and the subsequent havoc
wreaked upon our ecosystems."

Sculpture in downtown Vancouver
Sculpture on wall of downtown Shoppers Drug Mart

Skwachàys Lodge
Totem pole atop Skwachàys Lodge on West Pender Street

Mural at Robson Square Ice Rink
Mural in front of Robson Square Ice Rink

Douglas Coupland: Gumhead
Douglas Coupland: Gumhead, a self-portait by Douglas Coupland
on display outside Vancouver Art Gallery from May 31 to September 1, 2014
Made of steel, milled foam, and gum. Sign reads as follows:
"Viewers and passersby are encouraged to add their own chewed gum to this sculpture so that
over the course of time it will be transformed, eventually obscuring the artist's face."

wood sculpture Vancouver
Wood sculpture near Science World

Walking Figures
Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowics beside Broadway and City Hall Canada Line station.
The group of headless cast iron figures appear to walk aimlessly without sight.
The sombre tone is supposedly a reference to both time and loss.

Vancouver in the Rain
Vancouver in the Rain by Regan D'Andrade at Kitsilano Beach

Have you seen any of Vancouver's public art installations? Do you have a favourite? Do you have a favourite public art installation in another city?


  1. I can't help but vote on the weirdest (headless walking figures), larger than life (sparrow that I feel are a useless) bird, a place to stick your gum? I would've stuck it in his eye for encouraging this act. I saw so many "male" public figures in London, that I can't get the Blue Turkey statue out of my mind - favourite? No, just memorable.

    1. I saw the Blue Turkey statue in London last summer. It sure sticks out.

  2. The gum head wins! It's partly horrifying, which makes it naughty fun! Thanks for the tour. Love Vancouver.

    1. The gum head is pretty strange. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in late August with lots more gum on it.

  3. Love the Drop! Can't believe we haven't made it to Vancouver yet, got to get there!

    1. Lots to see in Vancouver. I will have another post with more photos from Vancouver in the next couple of weeks.

  4. I love cities that have lots of public art. Not sure about that head though!

    1. Public art seems to becoming more popular in a lot of cities. Some of it, such as the gumhead, seems designed to generate conversation.

  5. Don't you just love street art, Donna? Thx for introducing me to the street art of Vancouver. I particularly find the headless figures to be striking!

    1. I do love street art. There is a larger collection of the headless figures called Agora in Chicago's Grant Park. Should be interesting, but I haven't seen it.

  6. The walking figures are both creepy and artsy at the same time - they capture my interest. I'm also enjoying the orca fountain. Love the collection of art you have found.

    1. Thanks Leora. The walking figures are intriguing.

  7. I love public art. I can' believe I haven't seen some of these.

    1. You can hunt some of them (and others) out next time you're in Vancouver.