Rossland's First Public Art Unveiling

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
December 4th, 2008

Two new trees sprouted up on Columbia Ave this week, along with a few fine feathered friends keeping them company. Not just any old trees, these metal art sculptures are the realization of a dream many years in the making.

For years, the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture has planned to do a public art project. This Saturday, December 6th , will mark the official unveiling of the new piece in front of the Rossland Library.

“The idea of the public art piece is one that has been with the arts council for a long time,” explained RCAC vice-president Renate Flemming. “We always wanted to make the arts community more visible in town because we’re such a lifestyle and outdoors-oriented town and that’s very visible but our vibrant arts community doesn’t really have that presence, so this has always been one of our goals, mine in particular. I just wanted to give that presence for people to see that there is more going on than just sports here.”

As part of the BC 150 celebrations, a series of grants were created for such things as public art installations. Renate and Ann Damude came across the grant last spring, and, seeing the potential to acquire provincial funding to realize their public art dream, completed a successful application.

“We got the BC 150 grant and we liked Andrew Raney’s work, and we wanted something that fit in with nature,” noted Flemming. “The storytelling aspect of the ravens fit well with the library, which was our favourite place to put it because it gets a lot of visibility there and it works great for the library. They were very excited about the project.”

The sculpture, titled “The Story Tellers,” will feature two abstract metal trees on either side of the pathway leading to the library with five ravens in different poses perched among the branches. The ravens, each with their own unique posture and personality, will congregate as locals do, on the library lawn to discuss books and the area’s latest stories.

Having known Andrew Raney and his work as a sculptor, the arts council approached him to commission the work.

“They were partial to my birds, and they started thinking of the heritage and the First Nations and that,” said Raney. “They thought about the raven stories and that it was sort of appropriate to have this in front of the library. I don’t know that you listen to ravens talk but they sound quite intelligent and sort of sit there and cackle to each other.”

The piece itself will be fourteen feet high with the two tree structures made from recycled or found bits and piece of piping that Raney has collected over the years. The birds themselves are made from sheets of steel cut, formed and welded together into the Raven form.

“I start out with a sheet of 16 gauge steel, and I cut out pieces,” said Raney, describing the process behind the artwork. “Then I made a framework and then I rough in the head. Then I get sort of a solid form, and add to it. It’s made up of strips of steel. It’s not life representational. It’s very abstract forms, but you recognize them as birds or ravens right away. Each bird has sort of different attitudes. Some are looking up some are looking down and sideways and one’s actually flapping its wings. The legs are just pieces of bar stock. The tree itself is made out of recycled pipe and stuff that I‘ve found over the years. It’s got a bit of a taper to it and some of them are bent a little bit so it’s not too static and yet it’s a fairly simple form for a tree.”

Raney spent this past Wednesday afternoon putting the sculpture up and completing the finishing touches. Due to the large size of the trees and the difficulty in transporting them around, the final step of welding the birds into the trees took place on the front lawn of the Library.

With the arts council’s long-awaited dream coming to fruition this week, it is their hope that Rosslanders will enjoy the piece and to eventually add more public art pieces around town.

“We see this as our first project,” said Flemming. “We’d love to expand on it and have more public art happening in the future. We’re still dreaming about our garbage bear project and maybe some other scenes, so we hope this is just the start. There’s lots that could be done, and we’re excited about this one. It’s really going to be nice to see this idea come to fruition after many years of talking about it.”

The official unveiling of “The Communicators” will take place at 1:00 PM this Saturday as part of the Rekindle The Spirit celebration. The event will include presentations and a few words from the people behind the project, including artist Andrew Raney, followed by a reception at the Rouge gallery. To show your support for the arts in Rossland stop by the unveiling and say hello to Rossland’s five newest citizens.

Categories: Arts and Culture

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