Editorial: Community takes ownership of our public art

Editorial: Community takes ownership of our public art

Case of the stolen Rock Dragon shows Nanaimo cares about its temporary public art

When the Rock Dragon was stolen, more than a few people commented that this is why Nanaimo can’t have nice things.

Now that the public art piece has been found and is being returned to its perch, maybe it shows that we can have nice things after all.

The case of the stolen sculpture caught the interest of a lot of people in the community and articles about the theft were shared across Canada. Now that everything turned out all right, the artist, Heather Wall, said it was kind of cool, in retrospect, to see that people cared about public art. She’s right. We do.

The temporary public art program cost the City of Nanaimo $29,000 for 11 pieces in 2018, with six artists receiving $4,000 honorariums for their work and five receiving $1,000.

The selection is refreshed every year, and while everyone’s a critic and not every piece has been universally loved, the program has produced its share of wins for the city. The Frame in front of Sway’ A’ Lana Lagoon comes to mind as one of the most successful public art exhibits, so popular that the city extended it from temporary to long-term before the piece was finally retired last year, weathered, well-worn and well-loved.

We’ve all strolled along the Harbourfront Walkway, probably more than once. It’s been fun, on that familiar stroll, to see unfamiliar art pieces come and go and enhance the experience for Nanaimo residents and our guests.

There’s an old saying: ‘I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.’ It seems a lucky thing to happen upon a piece of art we like, while going for a walk in the park. Take a selfie with your favourite public art and enjoy it, because after a while, it will get swapped for something new. We look forward to seeing what nice things Nanaimo can have next.

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