Let’s face it. Calgary has some pretty cool public art but we also know that some of it is pretty weird, abstract, or out of this world. Named the Cultural Capital of Canada five years ago, there has been a notable explosion of public art across Calgary. It’s only appropriate that we compile a list of the strangest and most intriguing pieces we’ve come across and give Calgary art the recognition it deserves.

Travelling Light (2003)

Commonly known as the Blue Ring, the travelling light is a ring-shaped sculpture designed to stand freely without the help of cables or support structures. Designed to function as a part of the bridge’s street lamps, the stark blue circular sculpture also serves as a portal into Calgary’s vibrant city, its blue frame encapsulating the surrounding landscape.

Artist: Inges Indee
Location: 96 Avenue NE

Calgary’s Colourful Cows (2000)

It all began as a charitable fundraising project known as Udderly Art: Colourful Cows for Calgary. Over 100 blank-canvas cows were purchased by Calgary businesses and painted in a multitude of designs and colours. Raising over 1.2 million for various charities, dozens of auctioned off cows still reside in cow town and can be found in places such as the airport, Alberta Children’s Hospital, and the court house.

Charged Line (2014)

Given its location, a fire station, it’s easy to understand the inspiration behind Jill Anholt’s Charged Line public artwork. The lines are symbolic and larger than life representations of the familiar firefighters’ hose used to extinguish fires and keep people out of harm’s way. The sculpture is made of twisting stainless steel tubes and strands of LED lighting shooting out to represent water. It was commissioned in light of the Fire Department’s 125th anniversary.

Artist: Jill Anholt
Location: South Calgary Fire Station No. 5

Bow Passage Overlook (2014)

A tribute to the power of the Bow River, this intricate artwork is a series of stone work and strategically placed fallen beams built into terrace-like spaces. The artwork is intended to be inviting and experiential, encouraging Calgarians to access the river and surrounding trails while contemplating the link between our city and nature. The Overlook is built with native materials, blurring the lines between art and the environment.

Artist: Lorna Jordan
Site: Pearce Estate Park

Nature is an Eternal Mystery (2011)

This 5 metre sculpture isn’t technically a part of Calgary’s public art because it is the property of the University of Calgary but we still think it belongs on this list of weird art. Created for the university’s energy, environment, and experiential learning building (EEEL), the sculpture honours the relationship between man and nature. Artist Reinhard Skorachi graduated from the U of C and felt honoured to be able to contribute to the university’s public art.

Artist: Reinhard Skoracki
Location: University of Calgary

Ascension (2012)

Two giant spider-like creatures ascend upon the landscape of downtown Calgary. Their suspended movement adapts to the uneven terrain and their bodies are carefully molded yet faceless. The sculptures are meant to represent direction, teamwork, and, of course, ascension.

Artist: Incipio Modo
Location: Poetic Park

Chinook Arc (2014)

The circular, flowing shape of this piece is inspired by the Chinook weather that sometimes circles Calgary as well as the shape of Calgary’s historic Beltline community. The artwork was designed to be interactive; its night-time glow reflect the colours and movements visitors perform with their hands, bodies, and cellphones in front of optical sensors.

Artist: Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock
Location: Barb Scott Park

Wonderland (2013)

You probably know Wonderland better as that giant head sculpture you secretly wish you could climb. One Calgary’s bigger, standing at 39 feet high, and newer artworks, Wonderland is popular among visitors and photographers. The wired mesh piece imitates the head of a girl and hosts two opposing entrances so you can walk through and view all different angles of the artwork.

Artist: Jaume Plensa
Location: The Bow Tower

What do you think of YYC’s public art? Let us know in the comments.

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