Friday, June 29, 2012

Quenching Calgarians Thirst through Public Art

This Canada Day, Calgarians will have an opportunity to quench their thirst with water fountains conceived and designed by artists – an excellent example of how the City is using public art to its full potential. 

Designed by Utilities & Environmental Protection (UEP) artists-in-residence Sans Facon, the Fire Hydrant Water Fountain (FHWF) Project showcases the benefits of applying creative thinking and an artistic process to practical problems, and how doing so can raise public art beyond aesthetics to being an integral part of how we, as a City, address issues and opportunities.

Three distinct water fountain prototypes – respectively titled Strangers, Family and Group – will be installed and operational along Calgary’s busy RiverWalk promenade during the Canada Day celebrations. The artists will be on site to observe public interactions with the fountains, evaluate the success of the designs and identify any modifications that may be required.

Should all go well, this pilot phase will be followed by an open art competition inviting both local and international artists to design a collection of fountains that will be used by The City at festivals and events.

These fountains, with their workings exposed and three distinct characters, encourage us as citizens to gather publicly around the most basic of human needs, and to celebrate and raise our consciousness around our relationship to water. The fountains themselves are the vehicles or stage, with the ‘art’ being created through the process of having citizens interact and engage with them.

The FHWF project represents the first key pilot initiative to be realized through the WATERSHED+ Lead Artist Pilot Program. This new program presents a unique approach to public art and a distinct way of having artists work within The City, with the public and with community stakeholders.

For more information about this project, Watershed+ or the Public Art Program, please visit

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