Huntsville council at its July 27 general committee meeting asked staff to come up with a public process to install art at Kent Park.
“I’m definitely supportive of having some art installation in Kent Park that is really worthy,” said Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock. “I know that there have been lots of criticisms around what we’ve created in Kent Park, and for a number of reasons, but I think what the park does lend itself to is this open space,” she said, adding that she’s noticed that people are actually using it. “People are sitting in the chairs and people are leaning against the rocks and it is a place that eventually will be seen as a gathering spot,” she said.
In terms of what sort of art might best suit Ket Park, Alcock said: “I’m not suggesting that we do another recreation of Tom Thomson but as we all know, Tom Thomson in Civic Square is one of the most popular spots for people taking pictures…” Alcock said she’d like to see something equally as iconic at Kent Park. She said it should be a decision made with public input regarding what type of art and where it should go.
Alcock also said she’d like to see the installation created by a local artist or group and it should be iconic. “I would prefer that we stay away from things that you can immediately see elsewhere,” she said, referencing as an example a giant Muskoka chair. “This has to be iconic, it has to represent who we are as a community… those would be a couple of criteria I think is important.”
Councillor Jonathan Wiebe agreed but also said he’d like to open it up to the public, almost like a contest. “We should invite artists from Muskoka to pitch an idea for something that’s probably metal or indestructible that could go there and maybe have the public decide… some real public engagement and have a bit of a sort of playoff on who gets the final vote,” he said, adding that the majority would win, rather than council making a decision and hoping it goes over well. “Let’s really make it a true public engagement process and I think we’d end up with something really spectacular there.”
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said $100,000 was raised for the Tom Tomson bronze life-like sculpture created by the late Brend Wainman Goulet in Civic Square. She said a public process for choosing the art is a good idea and “may be a way to help raise funds for the new art in Kent Park.”
Staff will report back to general committee with a process based on directions from council.
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