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Play Me, I’m Yours: Public Art In Canada
July 18, 2012
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For the last few weeks, Toronto has played host to some beautiful instruments: 41 pianos have been placed around the city, each one decorated by a different artist to represent one of the Pan American countries, and each with the message "Play Me, I'm Yours" displayed prominently. The pianos are part of an art project to promote the 2015 Pan-Am Games, and they join a long tradition of public art projects in Canada.

Most cities across the country have policies in place encouraging public art, both permanent and temporary. Check out some more details on the Toronto piano project, and an overview of a few of the many projects that are helping to bring art to public spaces across Canada:

Play Me, I'm Yours: The 41 Pianos Project, Toronto, by Luke Jerram and 41 Artists
The 41 Pianos project is based on 'Play Me, I'm Yours', an international artwork project by Luke Jerram. That project has been touring internationally since 2008, with over 400 pianos installed in cities all over the world. The Toronto edition is designed to promote the 2015 Pan Am Games.

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Recreational pianist Marc Soares took a tour of 20 of the pianos for this video, and played a version of Scott Joplin's 'Maple Leaf Rag' on all of them. Check out the ivory-tickling below:


Dirt City|Dream City, Edmonton, 15 Artists
Edmonton's just about to get a public art explosion. From this Friday, July 20 until July 30, the Quarters area in downtown Edmonton is set to be transformed by 15 artists, with the work curated by artist Kendal Henry. The plan is to create site-specific outdoor public artworks that "will delve into the past, look to the future, wallow in the grit and radiate in the sometimes-hidden beauty that is alluring and unique to the Quarters". It all kicks off from 4-7 on Friday at the corner of Jasper Avenue and 95 Street with musical performances and a Lion Dance performed by the Hong De Cultural and Athletic Association. Check out the Dirt City|Dream City blog here for an ongoing archive of the project as it progresses.

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West Pender Place Lighting Display, Vancouver, by Tamar Frank
This light installation, created by Dutch artist Tamar Frank, brightens the night at West Pender Place, a condo building. It features programmed 8-metre-wide horizontal LED strips that flicker and flow, changing colours throughout the evening. Check out the artist talking about the project below:


Reginald The Giant Grasshopper, Regina, by Wilf Perrault
The insects can grow pretty large in Regina. At least, this one did: Reginald is a statue created by Saskatchewan artist Wilf Perrault out of steel and iron rod. Each year, the metal frame is filled in with greenery and Reginald comes to life. Check him out in full greenery below:

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Nef pour quatorze reines (Nave for fourteen queens), Montreal, by Rose-Marie Goulet
This work of public art commemorates the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that shook the Ecole polytechnique de Montreal in 1989, when 14 women were murdered at the school. The artist, Rose-Marie Goulet, said in a statement "we forcefully evoke their names, so that everyone who passes by may read them, repeat them and never forget them".

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From Here Until Now, Winnipeg, by spmb (Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski)
When Winnipeg's Osborne Bridge got a redesign, the city decided to include some public art. The design, which is still in progress, was created by artists and architects Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski based on their discussions with the public. With a sidewalk that forms a map of the neighbourhood, handrails that feature LED-lit text, and "illuminated gateway zones" at both bridge entries, the bridge pays homage to the history and present of the area. Find out more at the link.

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North Is Freedom, Halifax, by Doug Bamford
In front of the Halifax North Memorial Library, the sculpture 'North Is Freedom' was created by artist Doug Bamford. He says the idea of the piece is that "we can achieve on the strength of our shared experience" and that "knowledge is power". The figures at the top of the monolith are based on plaster casts of students from a local school.

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