The Osborne Bridge Project (spmb)
Public Art Builds a Bridge in Osborne Village
Public art often divides people, but a new project by Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski, married artist-architects who work under the name spmb, is building a bridge to the Osborne Village community.
Literally, and also rather poetically.
Developed by the Winnipeg Arts Council's Public Art Program as part of the massive Osborne Bridge rehabilitation, the three-part work won't be fully up and running until next year, but a recent preview shows it to be smart, sensitive and subtly beautiful. The work, entitled From Here Until Now, is actually embedded in the bridge project itself. Shanski and Aquino worked with engineers, construction people and accessibility consultants from the get-go. The work is not a decorative add-on but an integral part of the structure.
Shanski and Aquino also collaborated with the community. Instead of coming in with a preconceived idea, they responded to the neighbourhood's history, geography and sense of identity.
The results are understated but intriguing. On the sidewalk, a pattern of lines is picked out in contrasting concrete and metal edging. At first the lines seem abstract, even arbitrary, but they actually form a sectioned street map of Osborne Village.
Text from new Osborne Bridge (spmb)
On selected railings - 50 on each side - cut-aluminum bars form text pieces that are backlit by LED lights. The phrases were taken from community residents, who described their memories, experiences and emotions as part of the bridge project's consultation process. Isolated and fragmented, phrases like "Foreshadow the changes," and "We are casting longing eyes," take on an evocative aura.
Lastly, corner "gateways" constructed from illuminated metal panels make reference to nearby structures. The Legislature is a clear choice, and the Granite Curling Club is historic. But Aquino and Shanski also pay tribute to the Roslyn Apartments, whose importance is more of a grassroots thing. (In my generation, for example, I think every single person I know has lived in the Roslyn, dated someone who lived in the Roslyn, or gone to a really good party at the Roslyn. It's just one of those buildings.)
From Here Until Now is not a big, imposing, in-your-face monument but a quiet, experiential work that will gradually reveal itself over repeated bridge crossings. When it's finished, Shanski and Aquino's work will interact with pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders and drivers. On the river, summertime boaters and wintertime skiers will be able to read the text component. In the meantime, check out the preview next time you're stuck in bridge traffic.
Alison Gillmor, CBC reviewer (CBC)
Have a look at more of the art work done by Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski at spmb on the Osborne Bridge.