With its deep roots in agriculture and as the executive headquarters of the oil and gas industry, Calgary can present a cold, industrial exterior. Sprinkled throughout the city are moments of vibrant light, connecting visitors and locals alike to beautiful displays of creativity. The City of Calgary is currently home to over 1300 works of public art, a combination of large commissioned pieces, seasonal popups, and neighbourhood mural projects. The city is also making an effort to reconnect with its roots by promoting Indigenous artists to tell their stories through publicly accessible art pieces.
So take a moment as you explore the city to take in these places of creativity and feel the stories each piece has to tell.
Artists: Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan
Location: Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility
Designed to respond to the natural environment, the two statues interact with the changing light and with each other, depending on the visitor’s viewpoint. The natural angles and forms were inspired by flocks of birds, the movement of herds, the curves of Chinook clouds, and the natural elements of nature like horns, nests, and dens.
Artists: Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock
Location: Barb Scott Park
A true community project, Chinook Arc was created through collaboration between the artists, an external company specializing in interactive art experiences, and the Beltline community. The unique shape represents both past and present, bringing together memories of the streetcar loop around the community as well as the Chinook arc that blankets the sky. The sculpture emits a soft glow, and the interactive piece lights up even the darkest of days.
Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels
Artist: Beverly Pepper
Location: Ralph Klein Park
The towering sculpture is “an entrance that people are invited to walk through and experience,” says artist Beverly Pepper. “I wanted something that was inviting, but also something that reflected this area.” The entire piece was designed to work with the landscape and provide a unique experience with each and every visit. As an added surprise, the third sculpture – the smaller, central one – has shown viewers it “has a voice of its own” as it “speaks” when the wind passes through.
Women are Persons!
Artist: Barbara Paterson
Location: Olympic Plaza
This statue marks an integral moment in history. The Famous Five: Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby, are depicted celebrating their victory that secured the right for women to be considered fully legal “persons” in Canada in 1929, paving the way for the first woman senator a year later. The interactive piece of public art invites visitors to interact with the women, celebrate their victory, and join them to “make the best possible contribution” to the generation in which we are living.
Artist: Jaume Plensa
Location: Downtown outside the Bow Building
This commissioned sculpture is a popular attraction in downtown Calgary, and it is a favourite spot for photo ops. The large statue of a girl’s head represents the youthful and vibrant city of Calgary, and the interactive nature of the piece allows people to see it from all angles. Walk inside the piece to get an insider’s perspective of downtown or stand back and admire the work as a whole.
Beltline Urban Mural Project
Location: Beltline Neighbourhood
In an effort to brighten the community through artwork that’s accessible to everyone, the Beltline Urban Mural Project (BELT) began in 2017 and has continued to thrive in the urban community. Artists from across the country and around the world have contributed to brighten the spaces, and the annual summer festival highlights the creativity in this neighbourhood.
Artist: Adrian Stimson
Location: International Avenue Public Art Project
Part of the Siksika Nation, artist Adrian Stimson showcases Kawa’pomahkaik, translated as Animals That Roam the Prairie, as homage to the animals who used to roam the landscape. Each animal is labeled in both English and Blackfoot, and links provide audio assistance to hear the Indigenous words.
For a full map of public art locations in Calgary, visit calgary.ca.