While Pipe Man may rise again, it will not be under the purview of the Town of Huntsville.
Jan Nyquist, owner of Pipefusion and the donor of the art installation, was before Huntsville council December 19, along with the artist, Beverley Hawksley, asking that the art be returned to him.
When Pipe Man was gifted to the Town it became its property. It was then installed in the Muskoka River but its location got a lot of criticism from a great number of community members. In the end, council decided to remove the art pending a public consultation to determine a location more amenable to the community.
“Public art needs to be placed in public places and yes it will draw controversy and outrage. My question is this: How can we engage the public in a forum to determine a non-controversial, publicly acceptable location to display controversial public art? Does this not defy the purpose of public art in the first place?” questioned Nyquist.
“Neither Beverley, my staff or myself have any desire to engage in public forums to determine the future of Pipe Man. We all would find this offensive. We are not offended that we removed Pipe Man from the river at our expense. Our staff put great effort into the artistic creation, design, construction and installation of Pipe Man. In our view, there is no other suitable location.”
Nyquist said he understands council had a job to do and does not begrudge any councillors for voting to remove the art installation from the river, however he asked Council that it return the donation to Pipefusion “without delay so that we can all move on.”
Council agreed to return the art installation and many expressed sadness at the turn of events, but said they understood where Nyquist was coming from.
Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison issued Nyquist a public apology. “I got you into this Jan because it was my idea that you do something like this and I don’t know if you chalk it up to being a young new mayor and not as experienced as I need to be, and I don’t know if maybe I just wasn’t courageous enough to stick it out and fight for it, but I regret that we’re in this situation and I apologize for my role in it,” said the Mayor, adding that he intends to move forward with a public forum and engage the community on the issue of public art.
“No one needs to apologize. We’re happy as long as we get Pipe Man back,” responded Nyquist.
Asked by Councillor Dan Armour what his plans are for Pipe Man, Nyquist said the art is currently on the Pipefusion property and although no concrete plans are in place at the moment, “he may rise again.” Huntsville Mayor said he hopes he rises again as well and added, “hopefully my political career does too,” to laughter from those present.
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