Skip to content

Residents are raising an eyebrow over new public art

Some residents are in a flap over a piece of new public art perched inside the St. Anne Street roundabout. The piece, which was unveiled to the city on Friday afternoon, named "Migration", is made up of three golden-yellow sculptures.
SA art installation CC 4354.eps
NEW ART FOR CITY – Troy Funk, marketing and communications supervisor for the city’s cultural services department, snaps a few photos of the city's newest art installation at the St. Anne traffic circle on Friday. Later in the day the artwork entitled, “Migration,” was officially unveiled to the public.

Some residents are in a flap over a piece of new public art perched inside the St. Anne Street roundabout.

The piece, which was unveiled to the city on Friday afternoon, named "Migration",  is made up of three golden-yellow sculptures. From far away the three tall pieces look like stalks of wheat, but a closer look reveals the sculpture depicts 72 Canada geese.

Some fans of public art are tickled with the city's latest addition, which commemorates Canada's 150th birthday.

“Pretty cool piece of work. Reflective of where we live with grain fields and wetlands all around St. Albert. Bright colour – nice,” Douwe Vanderwel said.

The art represents the sense of community geese must have to successfully migrate and the two commissioned artists hope the piece embodies group strength. The wheat emphasizes the importance of agriculture to Canada’s economic and social development post-Confederation.

“I think it’s great, love public art and want to see more. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Further, (I'm) tired of the constant complaints about taxes. Cities are about more than roads and garbage collection,” Rob Clark said.

Bonnie Hofsink Schoonderwoerd said the art is “such an appropriate piece for a prairie province.”

“From a distance the stalks of wheat seem to be made of glass, luminescent from within. As you get closer you realize they are geese; it is enchanting,” Schoonderwoerd added.

While some residents are over the moon with the new piece, many aren’t exactly pleased with the installation. Residents compared the new installation to yellow asparagus or have suggested the art looks like yellow plastic sticks and some residents even called it “a horrible eyesore.”

“I think it's awful … I had to take a double look to figure out what that even was,” Katrina Ann Tober said.

"I don’t get the point of an oversized coat hanger," Dallas Starr said.

The selection of the artists, Jean-François Cooke and Pierre Sasseville of Quebec City, has also upset residents, who would have preferred to see local artists featured. But others enjoy the Quebec connection to St. Albert’s french roots.

“The Quebecois connection is also representative of St. Albert's heritage and history as a francophone settlement,” Andrew Robert Francis said.

The cost of the project is also raising some eyebrows, along with the general public art spending in the city.

The price tag is $240,000, which is being funded from the stabilization reserve in celebration of Canada's 150th and part of the one per cent of the capital projects budget earmarked for public art.

“What a waste of money, not to mention an eyesore. There are plenty of other places the money could have been spent: fixing the platform at Big Lake so we can admire real birds, in the classrooms, more swimming lessons, weed control,” Caitlin Stirling Fetherston said.

Some St. Albertans see the art as a sign of wasteful spending in the face of the rising cost of living in the city.

“This is not the time for wasteful spending on things like art, parties for the art, fancy light intersections downtown, big hospitality budgets, etc. Get back to the basics, look at what is really needed in St. Albert and spend the money wisely. People are getting fed up,” Kristen Barton said.

The project involved a three-month long community engagement campaign where the city gathered feedback from over 600 residents on location, artists and the proposed sculpture.


Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Media based in St. Albert, Alta.
Read more