OP/ED: There's more to Sculpturewalk than meets the eye

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
May 31st, 2010

When the concept of a Castlegar Sculpturewalk was first brought to city council, I thought it was a neat idea – but let’s face it, tons of neat ideas are floated through those august chambers, and few of them ever amount to anything.

Usually they just kind of fizzle out, or are so poorly executed that the ‘neat’ part doesn’t translate to real life. Sometimes, too many people get excited about a neat idea, and committees are struck, and compromises made to keep all those people happy end up watering the idea down so much it loses all merit and originality. So much for ‘neat’.

So, while I thought Sculpturewalk was, indeed, a neat idea, I really wasn’t all that excited about it.

I am now.

It was way beyond merely neat, this Sunday, to end up chatting with more than a dozen people as I made my rounds photographing the sculptures. This is one of the rare instances, in my opinion, where an idea transcends its original value as a result of exceptional execution and happy serendipity.

While I’m not keen on all of the sculptures (the Great Dane’s my favourite …there, I said it …let the hate mail begin…), that’s not the point – even the ones I find unappealing hit their true mark.

Their real purpose is, I think, community building – they give us something to talk about with the total stranger standing next to us, looking at the same piece….even if it’s just to ask ourselves or each other, “Yuck – what was that artist thinking?”

In examining the same artwork, regardless the conclusions we reach, we now have a shared experience and fodder for conversation, even though we’ve never met or spoken before.

I think that’s so much more than merely ‘neat’.

The happy serendipity comes when you consider the City of Castlegar’s new brand – including the tagline ‘Do it outdoors …’

The brand is all about quality of life, selling an experiential set of values – it encourages people to drop out of the rat race and come to Castlegar, where no one wants, or ever wanted, to … well, to be a rat.

It’s all about people, and community.

What better expression of that brand than an outdoor, experiential project that draws strangers together in shared experience and sparks conversation, discussion, even good-natured debate within the community?

It’s beautiful – even if some of the sculptures are not.

So when you cruise around checking out the new displays of art in Castlegar, by all means examine them for their artistic merit – but keep in mind their merit as bridges, too. They’re a universal attraction, in that they’ll draw visitors and locals alike; young and old; the healthy and the infirm; the rich and the poor. They’re even texturally rich, for the visually impaired.

For one of the first times in my years of reporting on government and community initiatives, there really is no one left behind.

I think that’s kinda beautiful, too.

What started as merely a neat idea has now become something in which the whole in staggeringly greater than the sum of its parts (the sculptures themselves).

I took photos of most of them and will post a couple here in The Source, but I noticed many of the people I met were taking pictures, too. In the interests of shared experience, I’d love to post your pictures, comments and interpretations of the Castlegar Sculpturewalk.

Feel free to post material directly to the site, or email me at info@castlegarsource.com

Categories: Op/Ed