'Drinking bird' trio of sculptures chosen as art for Calgary's new central library

The public art for the new central library in downtown Calgary will feature playful moving sculptures outside the building and a mural made of 10,000 books on the inside.

Los Angeles artist Christian Moeller chosen for $2M commission

New library art

5 years ago
Duration 0:34
New library art

The public art for the new central library in downtown Calgary will feature playful moving sculptures outside the building and a mural made of 10,000 books on the inside.

California-based artist Christian Moeller was chosen for the $2-million commission after a multi-stage selection process that started with 239 proposals from all over the world.

The proposals were reviewed by a volunteer committee consisting of a community member, an artist and representative from ACAD, a curator from the Glenbow Museum, someone from the Calgary Public Library and a representative from Calgary Arts Development.

The committee then whittled the applications down to a shortlist of 35 and then a list of five finalists.

Two of the sculptures, which the developer describes as being reminiscent of drinking birds, will be located on the west side of the library building at Third Street and Ninth Avenue S.E. (CMLC)

Each of the finalists was asked to respond to the request for proposals drawn up by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), which is the lead developer for the library building.

"In April 2015, in consultation with non-voting members, the committee selected Christian Moeller for his proposal to create an iconic outdoor three-piece sculpture suite and an interior installation for the New Central Library," said CMLC vice-president Susan Veres in a release.

 "His colourful, captivating concepts bring a playfulness to the library experience — a delightful sense of arrival and wonder for all visitors to enjoy, especially children."

The third sculpture will stand by itself on the east side of the library. (CMLC)

The $2-million budget for the artworks includes all fees, expenses, fabrication costs, delivery and installation, which is set for August.

Two pieces of the three-part sculpture, titled Trio, will be located on the west side of the library building. The third will stand on the east side. Each multi-coloured piece will be about 10 metres tall and bob up and down endlessly, reminiscent of a "drinking bird," CMLC said.

Inside the library on the third level at the east side of the building, Moeller will create a portrait of a goldfish using the coloured spines of about 10,000 books.

Christian Moeller will also create an interior wall of books. The nearly 11,000 book spines, in 12 different colours, will create the image of a goldfish. (CMLC)

"The piece reads from close up as an abstract composition of colourful barcodes; but from a distance, the coloured spines of the books materialize into a beautiful image," CMLC said.

Moeller is a professor in the department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and operates a studio in Los Angeles. He studied art and architecture in Frankfurt, Germany, and in Vienna, Austria, before moving to the United States in 2001.

The $245-million library is set to open Nov. 1.

California-based artist Christian Moeller has been commissioned to create public art for the new central library. It will include two moving sculptures, pictured above, on the building's west side. (CMLC)