Calgary

Calgary sculpture that burned hole in viewer's jacket may be back on display next year

A Calgary sculpture which has been in storage since burning a hole in an onlooker's jacket will likely be back on display next year.

City is negotiating a deal to bring the two-tonne Wishing Well sculpture back out of storage

The Wishing Well sculpture has been in storage since 2014, after singeing a viewer's jacket when sun reflected off the stainless steel surface. (Submitted by the City of Calgary)

A Calgary sculpture which has been in storage since burning a hole in an onlooker's jacket will likely be back on display next year.

The $559,000 sculpture, called Wishing Well, was installed in front of the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness in northeast Calgary in 2012. But after sun reflected off the sculpture, which consists of two polished stainless steel hemispheres, and singed a visitor's coat, it was put into storage in 2014 for safety reasons.

Since then, it's been held in a crate, covered in heat-sealed plastic in a local warehouse, away from the public eye. 

Jennifer Thompson, the city's acting manager of arts and culture, said the city is currently in negotiations with a local private company to see the public art piece to be reinstalled.

"We started to look at the space that they proposed and run some significant safety tests and indeed, it looks like their proposed location is viable," she said. 

"It's a really exciting project and we're really excited about the opportunity."

The city says it's working with a private company to have the Wishing Well sculpture back on display in 2021. (Submitted by the City of Calgary)

Thompson didn't say if the new location is indoors or outdoors, just that it will be in a location where public art aficionados can interact with it safely. 

She said no taxpayer dollars will be used to relocate the sculpture, since the private company will be covering the cost. 

"When Wishing Well was originally installed it had all of the attributes that Calgarians have expressed they want to see in a piece of public art, it's accessible, you can interact with it directly," she said. 

Coun. George Chahal said he's excited the city has a solution for the sculpture, but that the art piece's removal left a gap in northeast Calgary's public art offerings.

He'll be bringing forward a motion on the issue to the city's priorities and finances committee on Tuesday, to be discussed at November's council meeting. 

"We're asking for the funding allotment to be returned to the Genesis Centre and surrounding community, and that we right a wrong with the issues we've had with this piece of art," he said. 

"I think it's important to deal with the inequity when it comes to investment in our community."

Wishing Well was created by Living Lenses of San Francisco. It weighs 2,200 kilograms and is 3.9 metres tall, 5.4 metres wide and four metres deep. 

With files from Scott Dippel

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