City takes applications for public art competition

The location of public art is important so the busy Queen Street will showcase the art (Cara Smith/AQ)
The location of public art is important so the busy Queen Street will showcase the art (Cara Smith/AQ)

The city and Downtown Fredericton Incorporated have teamed up and announced a new project which will bring color and vibrancy to Queen St.

The city and DFI will be co-funding the whole thing and are calling on artists Canada-wide to submit expressions for what will be downtown’s newest piece of public art.

The latest attraction will be nestled between the Fredericton Convention Centre and the Playhouse which has been noted for the commission.

Good public art depends on good public spaces. And Queen Street has it all. On any given day, different types of people spill onto the street. There’s a constant zigzag in and out of restaurants and shops or the casual hum of passers-by through Officers’ Square.

“Fredericton has so many special traits about it, especially downtown. So, were hoping adding more public art to our streets will help to enhance the culture and colorfulness of downtown,” said cultural development officer, Angela Watson.

“When you go to other major Canadian cities, you see art on every other street corner. It would be nice for Fredericton to get to that stage.”

Public art is important because it can expose art to those who wouldn’t normally go to established venues like museums or theaters. It can create a certain aesthetic such as beauty or ugliness to serve a particular point, weather that is political or societal one.

Fredericton already has a variety of traditional-esque art pieces like the City Hall fountain or the Robert Burns memorial statue.

“We do have some great historical art, but we’re really looking to make a splash with this new piece. Which is why we’ve opened up the competition to all of Canada,” said Watson.

The city is looking to set high-standards and has limited the contest to professional artists with worthy portfolios.

“When I first heard about this art contest, I thought it was open to anyone. I just pictured a bunch of frenzied art students trying to come up with obscure and meaningful ideas, but I understand the want for professionalism… like what if someone mounted a giant gravy boat with panda bears hanging from it?,” said a St. Thomas arts student, Molly McGovern.

“I hope they end up picking something that will really jump out from the norms of downtown. Public art has the ability to really get people talking. So, it would be nice to something more than a water spewing angel or a famous dead guy,” said

McGovern.

“We’re really hoping for a wide variety of experienced artists. I already have some applications from Ontario so, the word is really getting out,” said Watson.

The budget for the project is $60,000 and the category is wide open. Although, the city is hoping for an original piece that will withstand time while encompassing Fredericton’s history, vitality, and culture.

Expressions of interest will be accepted until midnight March 4.

“We’re realizing a lot of people are interested in this sort of thing. It’s really something people believe in,” said Watson.

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