Huntsville, have you met Moosekokie?

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If you haven’t checked out the friendly moose at River Mill Park, why not stop and take a selfie, says the artist. It’s Huntsville’s latest public art sculpture.

Moosekokie is the light-hearted creation of Dan Gudmundson. He created it for Canada’s 150th and came up with the moose, made out of sheet aluminum, as a representation of how he sees Huntsville and area. “Moose, maple leaves, fall colours, umbrellas, sitting in a Muskoka chair and just having a nice time,” he said. “To me he’s all just about fun and let’s just share the day, right? I just want people to have fun with it.”

Gudmundson added 13 maple leaves to his creation to represent Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. He used special paint for the leaves to make them glisten in the sun and tried to make the umbrella look a little more like foliage as moose don’t typically sit under an umbrella per se, right?

His daughter wrote a story about Moosekokie that sits on the arm rest – a story which very much resembles that of Gudmundson’s, who worked in high tech for 30 years, which took him all over the world. Yet despite all that travel he chose Huntsville as the place to call home about 15 years ago. “This is where we chose to settle and that’s kind of why this place is special to me because this is a choice, this isn’t by default.”

In keeping with that light spirit, Moosekokie even has his own Facebook page where you’ll see him sitting by a campfire and riding an ATV.

This is Gudmundson’s first venture into making public art. Asked if he was wary about making such a donation, given the controversy over Pipe Man, Gudmundson said he can take a lot of criticism and it won’t get him down.

He said in terms of the Pipe Man, what was a public art donation as an expression of appreciation to the community got lost along the way, but noted that art is controversial.

“I think it always is in some way from somebody’s perspective. It doesn’t matter how benign you try to make it. Some people will love the moose and some people will think he’s just ridiculous, he doesn’t look like a moose, he looks like some comic book thing, why do we need something so comical in Huntsville?” he said. “I think we’ve just got to take everything for its real face value.”

Ideally, he’d like people to just have fun with Moosekokie, take a couple of selfies and talk about the moose they saw in Huntsville.

He said the most disappointing part of the project was having to put the moose in a more visible part of town so it wouldn’t be vandalized. “It’s just a bit sad that there is that here,” he said.

Moosekokie is Gudmundson’s first public art donation and whether Moosekokie stays beyond Labour Day will depend on Town council.

“If they want him they can keep him, if they don’t that’s fine. I’ve got lots of places to put him,” he said, noting that Huntsville Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage Teri Souter will get input from council in the fall as to whether Moosekokie stays.

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