LETTER: Public art is a gift

A longtime Oak Bay resident in his mid-90s reflected on a lifetime of travel as he walked along the waterfront at. He thought of times he had been delighted by a thoughtful sculpture in a public place – nothing grand or political, just something whimsical to bring a smile to the face of a passerby. As he walked, he noticed a small rock a few metres from the shore – a perfect site for a bit of art. He imagined making a gift to the community for this public space, entirely paid for by him.

RELATED: Potential statue slated for Oak Bay beach draws early criticism

Of course, a public gift requires a public process. Fortunately Oak Bay has a robust Public Art Advisory Committee. You may have noticed other public art installations appearing in Oak Bay in the last few years. The PAAC was asked by the prospective donor to help choose the work of art, and to seek approvals, under the guidelines of Oak Bay’s Public Art Policy.

The donor’s plan is for a small bronze sculpture sitting on one end of the rock, a rock which is almost submerged at high tide. The rock is under provincial jurisdiction and so a licence to occupy is being sought from the provincial government.

RELATED: Resident explores heritage designation to halt art placement in Oak Bay

The Oak Bay Council endorsed the location for the sculpture on the rock at a meeting last June, and both our MP Murray Rankin and MLA Andrew Weaver are supportive of the project. Subsequent to the first public meeting on the subject, letters to the editor and discussions in social media appeared.

RELATED: LETTER: Nature needs no embellishment

RELATED: LETTER: Oak Bay should appreciate the beauty of nature

RELATED: LETTER: Art shouldn’t disrupt nature

When the results are in, it is then up to Oak Bay Council to decide what to do with this proposed gift.

Submissions from 32 sculptors were received and, after a rigorous selection process, the donor chose a design by Fred Dobbs, a well-known local artist. In 2017 Dobbs won the People’s Choice Award in the municipality’s Arts Alive sculpture competition for his bronze, Lunar Transitions, which is now on permanent display in front of the Oak Bay Public Library. The maquette for his new sculpture, proposed for this foreshore site, is on view at the municipal hall.

RELATED: Lunar Transitions earns the public vote in ArtsAlive 2017

RELATED: ArtsAlive installations start popping up in Oak Bay

It’s easy to get distracted by the specifics of the art, or to imagine that our precious natural environment is going to be despoiled. Without a clear understanding of what is going on, some people react as if this gift is being forced upon them. Let’s not forget what’s behind the proposal now being considered: one of our citizens wants to commission and contribute a sculpture – “to bring a smile to the face of a passersby.”

As a community, we’re going through the process, to decide whether we will accept this gift. Let’s give the donor and his donation the respect they deserve. Your informed opinion is encouraged.

Robert Amos

Oak Bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep Saanich drainage pipe

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Police respond to successful Facebook scam on Oak Bay resident

Petty thievery in King George Terrace where plants, gargoyle are missing

Victoria Clipper suspends services through April 2021

International travel restrictions, COVID-19 uncertainty lead to decision

UPDATE: Incident near Mount Douglas Park ‘strictly medical,’ Saanich police say

Intoxicated person taken into police custody, brought to hospital

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Most Read