Rock sculpture to anchor new art commons


Plans are progressing to have a stone sculpture created by an international artist anchor Olds’ newest outdoor attraction to be unveiled this spring.

Town staff laid the groundwork for the Cornerstone Art Commons earlier this fall.

Located at the northwest corner of 46th Street and 65th Avenue, the public art project will include interchangeable pieces of art in permanent frames already erected, legacy benches and the planned placement of a Bergen Rocks sculpture on loan.

“The intent is to draw attention to what was a dead green space,” said Doug Wagstaff, the town’s chief operations officer.

In late 2016, Cornerstone developer Springwood Land Corporation offered up to $30,000 toward matching funds to enhance the corner as an attractive community space and welcoming attraction.

Staff are now dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on agreements and paperwork required to bring a Bergen Rocks sculpture to the attraction.

“This is something that would be unique, a draw for tourism as well as just conversation pieces and just a nice artwalk,” said Wagstaff.

Throughout the summers of 2008 to 2010, professional sculptors from around the world came to stay and create sculpture at Morton Burke’s farm near Bergen, southeast of Sundre. In 2011 Burke facilitated the event at Red Deer College.

Throughout the course of the four symposiums, a total of 22 sculptures were created. Three have since been relocated to Sylvan Lake, leaving the collection at his farm at 19.

Olds is eying one piece to anchor Cornerstone Art Commons right now and town staff have pitched the placement of more sculptures in a proposed Bergen Rocks Olds artwalk along the north side of Highway 27 between 61st and 65th avenues.

Funding is already in place to finish Cornerstone Art Commons this spring but no funding has been committed yet for the proposed Bergen Rocks Olds.

Council will make a decision on the $65,000 proposal during 2018 budget deliberations.

The sculptures would be on loan to the town for a three- to five-year period.

“It would be something to differentiate that stretch in Olds as travellers and visitors alike are passing through. It’s something unique and again we’ve been looking for something to differentiate that you’ve visited Olds,” Wagstaff told members of the policies and priorities committee on Nov. 20.

Staff has gathered feedback over the years on what public art residents want to see in the community, he said.

“One of the things we did hear in our engagements though, is the community very strongly did not want to have ëthe biggest’ fill in the blank. They did not want to have the biggest Tonka green truck or goose or nickel or whatever,” Wagstaff said. “So other communities have done that and they’ve done it well. But our community — and very, very strongly — said that was not an area they wanted to go through.”

Other ideas investigated before settling on the rock sculptures included farm implements and metal art.

Along with the rock sculpture, Cornerstone Art Commons will first feature Eye of the Lens portraits taken over the past year in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Wagstaff said the work will then be switched out with other pieces.


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Lea Smaldon

Lea Smaldon joined Mountain View Publishing as managing editor in 2006.