Art Energizes Public Spaces

Communities celebrate their people and places It engages minds and offers broad learning experiences. It adds vibrancy to…

2 minute read

Communities celebrate their people and places

It engages minds and offers broad learning experiences. It adds vibrancy to communities, attracts visitors and benefits local economies. It helps provide a living to those engaged in creative careers. What is it?

Public art.

In 2018, the Trust introduced Public Art Grants to help communities and groups buy and install art by Basin
artists in public spaces like main streets, parks and plazas.


A new mural for the community of ʔaq̓am will span two exterior walls of its biomass heating building. One will depict a horseshoe feature found on nearby hoodoos, incorporate the four seasons and include local animals and their Ktunaxa traditional names. The other will reproduce a historical photo of ʔaq̓am taken around 1900.

“The final concept for both parts of the mural came directly from the Elders,” says Mitch Tom, Operations Coordinator.
As a young Ktunaxa artist who has undertaken a number of smaller projects for her community, Darcy Luke is looking forward to painting and taking on this bigger challenge.

“This is going to be my largest project to date,” she says. “I am excited to do this work
as an artist and as a Ktunaxa citizen. It feels very empowering to undertake this large-scale work for my community.”


On a wall inside the community’s main gathering space, the Elkford Community Conference Centre, the Elkford Arts Council Society has installed art that draws the viewer in to reflect on the natural and human history of the area. The piece—Pass in the Clouds, by local artist Katherine Russell—uses six glass panels to depict a mountain-ridge trail located in the nearby Height of the Rockies Provincial Park.

“Public art has the power to energize and enhance our public spaces, making us think and transform where we live, work and play,” says Teri Cleverly, Director. “Public art helps celebrate the qualities that make one town different from another and will often reach a demographic that would never otherwise set foot in an art gallery or museum. This piece celebrates the beauty of the Elk Valley and what makes living here unique.”


Visitors are able to walk, sit and balance on a ribbon of metal as part of a new art installation in Cranbrook’s Idlewild Park. Meant to break down barriers about how people interact with art, Idlewild and the Spirit of Joseph Creek was inspired by Joseph Creek, a waterway that winds through the community. Approximately 50 feet long, the sculpture also incorporates large boulders that highlight the creek’s movement.

The Cranbrook and District Arts Council commissioned the piece from local artist Paul Reimer.

“We want to inspire the imagination and fuel creative interpretation in the people who visit the park,” says Yvonne Vigne, President.

“Public art like this sculpture provides an experience that is accessible to everyone, while also creating awareness about our local artists. It’s a way to generate a creative spark that does not require visiting a gallery.”

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