Next time you are traveling along 14th Street, be on the lookout for Bankview’s two new public art pieces. They will be installed shortly, on the utility boxes at the corners of 26th Avenue and 21st Avenue S.W.
Calgary-based artist, Bram Timmer, was chosen by a committee of Bankview residents to create these pieces as part of the City of Calgary’s Public Art Utility Box Program. They are entitled ‘Bankview Past,’ and ‘Bankview Future.’ Recently Theresa, (a community member involved with the artist selection process for Bankview) interviewed Bram about these pieces and his experience in creating them.
Question: What was your first impression about the community of Bankview?
When I was guided through the community, I noticed the incredible mixture of old and new architecture – nestled away in the hills – overlooking downtown (the bank). Oddly enough, I felt as if some of the homes built in the early 1900s were living and protecting the community from becoming too nondescript. With its communal gardens adding to the hilly green spaces I quickly realized Bankview is a hidden gem that’s easily accessible and admirable.
Question: What drove you to speak & listen to all the community’s residents? How did you translate that feedback into a visual work of art?
As part of any public art project, the community, which the piece is for,is your audience and without knowing them, you’re ill informed about creating any resonating piece of art. The Stampede Breakfast was the opportune time to reach out to the community of Bankview and involve them in a collage of descriptive words that held meaning to what the community means to each one of its members. Though seeing people write on a massive sheet spanning the width of a building was entertaining, it didn’t hold as much meaning as the individual conversations I had. Once those conversations started, there was no stopping them – everyone had wonderful stories to share that I can’t do justice by recapping here. Everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic about art, and when they knew they could be a part of it, even more so. I owe a great deal to everyone’s kindness for sharing their stories with a stranger. After the feedback was collected it was time to digest and categorize it. The wide range of input narrowed down the choices to creating something resembling the past and the future. Then I started sketching out an idea.
Question: What was particularly inspiring to you in this process?
The history of Bankview is one you’d expect from the region – ranchlands, cattle, horses and plenty of wide-open spaces. What inspired me was the mixture of “old and new” thriving in a community. A vast and meaningful history, passed on from generation to generation was relayed in many stories from the elderly community members I spoke with. The diversity within Bankview was apparent when I spoke with community members that moved here from countries all over the world. It told me that the future of Bankview is multicultural, inclusive, and good at adapting to the relentless flow of time.
To learn more about Bram Timmer, visit his website: http:// www.wildforest.com
To learn more about the Public Art Utility Box Program go to www.calgary.ca and search ‘Utility Box Public Art Program’