PUBLIC ART COLLECTION
The City of Calgary’s Public Art Collection has been in existence since the early 1900s and includes paintings, prints, textile pieces and sculpture. Its over 700 works are valued in excess of $3 million. The collection represents Calgary’s history, its connection with historical events and the achievement of artists who have been nurtured here. The collection exists through the spirit of generosity and giving for which Calgarians are internationally recognized. It is unique in that the majority of works have come to the collection through donations, bequests and endowments and therefore the collection grows each year.
The City of Calgary Public Art Collection is located in “a gallery without walls” with works exhibited in a variety of venues throughout the city. This unique approach ensures the collection is on constant view throughout Calgary.
One of Calgary’s most familiar pieces of art is the sculpture by William McElcheran, titled “Conversation”, which is located on the Stephen Avenue Mall. It depicts two businessmen in their bulky topcoats and too small felt hats, wheeling and dealing. Norcen Energy Resources donated this artwork to the city in 1981.
Sculpted piece, “Brotherhood of Mankind”, by Mario Armengol, is located by the former Calgary Board of Education buildings, at 1st Street and 6th Avenue S.E. The statues were originally constructed in 1967 as props for the British Pavilion at Exp 67 in Montreal. Purchased by Robert M. Cummings of Maxwell Cummings & Sons it was donated to The Cityf Calgary on July 8, 1968 and accepted by the Duke of Kent on behalf of The City.
At Confederation Park you will see a sculpture by Enzo Dipalma titled, “Transition ’67”. This work celebrates Canada’s 100th birthday and was donated to The City by the Britamco Club, employees of BA Oil in Calgary. It is constructed of steel and aluminum and has proven flexible enough to withstand the climbing expeditions of over a quarter century of youngsters enjoying the park.
At Southland Leisure Centre visitors can view a multi media piece by David Cheney, made with pastels/paper and plywood.
Visitors to the William R. Cassel and Signal Hill libraries can view works by Gregory Arnold, Annora Brown, Maggie Dunbar, Jean Mihalcheon, Frank Palmer, Graham Peacock, Margaret Shelton, and Thomas Lax.
Numerous sculptural pieces belonging to the collection are located at venues such as Devonian Gardens, Prince’s Island and the Calgary Zoo.
In Olympic Plaza is a work titled “Women Are Persons!”. This work celebrates the achievement and the efforts of five extraordinary women on behalf of all Canadian women and was donated in 1999 by the Famous Five Foundation. One hundred years from now this piece will also reflect the values of Calgarians as we entered the new millennium.
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR CALGARIANS TO VIEW THE COLLECTION
In 2015, CAAF launched Gallery 505—a space dedicated to showcasing the Public Art Collection and CAAF related programming at 505 8 Avenue SW, Calgary. The Gallery is open year round to visitors during weekday business hours.