Five emerging Alberta artists are unveiling the works they came up with while being mentored by three top international artists in a program put on by the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary.

Experiments in Public Art was a five-month project in co-operation with the City of Calgary to help artists with an interest in public art develop their ideas in a workshop with three internationally recognized artists — Tania Bruguera from Cuba, Jeanne van Heeswijk from Holland and New York-based Alfredo Jaar. 

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Onlookers partake in "Re-imagining the Commons in Calgary" by Alana Bartol, Kevin Jesuino and anne drew potter at Experiments in Public Art. (Steven J. Hodges)

Now the five regional artists — Dick Averns, Alana Bartol, Kevin Jesuino, Taryn Kneteman and anne drew potter — are ready to show off their proposed public art installations.

  • The group exhibition is at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery from March 22 at 5 p.m. until April 22.
  • The gallery is at the Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) at 1407 14th Avenue N.W.

Kneteman's proposal, Job Description. "considers how anxiety shapes our material circumstances," the gallery says in a release. 

"The artist reflects on the function of employment status in self-perception, and explores the uneasiness associated with being outside traditional economic roles."

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"Recognition…Validation…Reassurance: Art and Mental Wellness" by Dick Averns, pictured, recreates the interior of a Calgary Transit bus that uses visuals to depict the struggles of individuals who cope with mental health issues. (Steven J. Hodges)

Re-imagining the Commons in Calgary by Alana Bartol, Kevin Jesuino and anne drew potter "investigates the city's ecosystem and proposes alternative scenarios for its communities," the gallery says.

And Recognition…Validation…Reassurance: Art and Mental Wellness by Dick Averns recreates the interior of a Calgary Transit bus and uses visuals to depict the struggles of individuals who cope with mental health issues.

Proposals could come to fruition 

The city's public art program has a budget of up to $50,000 to make at least one of the artworks a reality in a public space.

Visitors to the show can vote for their favourite piece using an iPad on display.

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An attendee of Experiments in Public Art opening takes in the pale glow of a violet neon sign at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art + Design. (Steven J. Hodges)

"A jury will meet to consider all proposals and select one or more projects to come to fruition," ACAD said in a release. 

Public art inspires strong reactions

Public art in Calgary can provoke strong reactions. 

A $470,000 ring of blue steel at Deerfoot Trail and 96th Avenue N.E. called Travelling Light installed five years ago still gets sneered at as an ugly waste of money. Mayor Naheed Nenshi called it "awful."

But Calgarians and tourists alike can't seem to take enough pictures of Wonderland, Jaume Plensa's 12-metre sculpture of a head outside the Bow Building on Sixth Avenue S.E.

Travelling Light, Big Blue Ring

"Travelling Light" is a large blue metal hoop with street lights on top of it located in the northeast on the 96th Avenue bridge near Deerfoot Trail. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Wonderland

"Wonderland" by world-renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is on display outside the Bow building. (CBC)