'A thing of beauty': Alex Janvier's tile mosaic unveiled at Rogers Place

Before concert goers and sports fans enter Rogers Place, they’ll be greeted by a massive signature mosaic by Alberta artist Alex Janvier, unveiled on Thursday.

Named Iron Foot Place, it depicts the natural beauty of Edmonton's landscape

Iron Foot Place, a huge tile mosiac by artist Alex Janvier, was unveiled at Ford Hall on Thursday, opening day for Rogers Place. (Min Dhariwal / CBC)

Before concertgoers and sports fans enter Rogers Place, they'll be greeted by a massive signature mosaic by Alberta artist Alex Janvier, which was unveiled Thursday.

The tile installation, 14 metres in diameter, is set into the floor of Ford Hall, previously known as the winter garden.

Depicting the natural beauty of the Edmonton landscape, the mosaic is named Tsą tsą ke k'e — Iron Foot Place.

The piece is made of nearly one million byzantine glass smalti tiles, which took 20 staff members six months to put together.

"It's a wonderful piece of work that's going to remain here with the city that is always looking forward," Janvier said at the unveiling.

"It's a city that's growing. It's people like yourselves that make it happen."

Mayor Don Iveson had high praise for what he called "a thing of beauty" from "an incredible Canadian artist" who started his career in Edmonton and still feels a great fondness for the city.

"I think the artwork, and what Alex has woven together here in this mosaic, speaks to the diversity of this city and connects this new building in the heart of our city with the history of these lands, the waters, and the air, and the life that sustains us here in a really rich way," Iveson said.

"I think it will continue to be a conversation starter for people, and an anchor for people, in connection to this place from all walks of life, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike."

Janvier was chosen from a list of Canadian and international artists to create an immense artwork for the new downtown arena.

Janvier is from the Le Goff Reserve near Cold Lake and is of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent.

When he was eight, he was sent to a residential school near St. Paul. While there, he was given the supplies to create his first painting.

​Iron Foot Place is one of four public art commissions in Rogers Place, worth a total of $1.6 million.
Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky and renowned artist Alex Janvier at Thursday's opening of Rogers Place.
Oilers owner Daryl Katz and artist Alex Janvier at the Rogers Place on Thursday.