Editorial: Public shows its appetite for the arts

Well-received ArtsAlive community arts program shows steady growth

The passion Oak Bay has for art is well demonstrated, not only in its many galleries and artists, but also in its multiple art clubs and well-attended special events.

Until recently, though, public art was sorely lacking.

Enter Oak Bay arts laureate Barbara Adams and ArtsAlive, Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture’s annual public sculpture program.

Three years ago, Adams brightened Oak Bay streets with a summer show of borrowed artworks and three pianos, painted by local artists and set out to delight both visual and aural senses.

Last year, the pianos returned, along with a dozen sculptures in prominent Oak Bay locations.

This past year also saw the purchase of Chris Paul’s Salish Sea sculpture at Oak Bay Marina – one of the works from that inaugural year. And just last month, the district agreed to purchase its second piece, Rebirth, a distinctive whale bone-inspired piece by artist David Hunwick at Oak Bay Avenue at Foul Bay Road.

The growth and evolution of the ArtsAlive program is significant, and can be attributed in large part to Adams, with her infectious passion for the arts.

Seeking to keep this year’s artworks on the street beyond summer, Adams asked local businesses and organization to sponsor individual works for a year-long exhibit, and the community quickly answered the call. Thirteen artworks are dotted throughout the municipality, representing a wide array of artists and styles. People can vote for their favourite and the most popular work will be considered for possible purchase by the municipality.

Thanks to the artistic talents of Jonathan Gleed, Peter van Giesen, Dorothy Jarvis and Robert Amos, pop-up pianos will also be installed once again at Turkey Head, Loon Bay Park, Cattle Point and Estevan village.

Last week, two full buses toured art lovers around the district to view this year’s sculptures and meet with the artists, demonstrating art’s importance here, and its ability to draw visitors from further afield to enjoy all we have to offer.

This welcome reception and the steady growth of ArtsAlive shows art can indeed be a powerful tool.