My first visit to Winnipeg was a short one. A work conference kept me busy and I wasn’t able to tack on any extra vacation time to explore the city in more depth. Luckily, on my travels back and forth near the conference site and hotel I was able to come across some interesting public art. There are a number of installations around the Millennium Library in the middle of the city, most notable is “emptyful” by Bill Pechet. This form lights up and sprays water and fog, but I caught it during a period of inactivity. It’s meant to symbolize the openness of the prairies and how weather can flow through/from it. At almost thirty feet tall, it is a striking piece.
On the other side of the library is “Funnelator”. Seriously. That’s the name of this colourful piece. I think the idea was to install multiple of these throughout downtown but I only came across the one.
In the courtyard on the opposite side of the library, there’s a really nice park including a couple of pieces of art. The pop of orange helped give some life to this block of the city stuck in the lull before trees and plants bloom later in spring.
And lastly, on one corner of the library building is “Waterfall #2” by Theresa Himmer. This is a mirror version of “Waterfall #1” by the same artist which doesn’t exist anymore. Himmer is based in Iceland, and although coincidental to any meaning of this work, Winnipeg and other areas in Manitoba are home to a large population of Icelandic people. I liked this as I have a soft spot for Icelandic waterfalls.
On my way for a mid-afternoon coffee pick me up a few blocks from the conference hotel, I walked past this work called “Justice” in front of the Law Courts. It moves with the wind, and on this particularly breezy day, it caught me off guard until I realized that was part of its design.
With my limited free time in Winnipeg, I made my way to the Museum of Human Rights for a couple of hours as that was my one “can’t miss” of this trip. Before crossing under the railway bridge at the Forks Underpass en route, I stopped to take in this piece of art that is a nod to exploration.
On my way back from the museum, I had to visit the most famous street corner in Canada – Portage and Main. Probably one of the most iconic pieces of city art sits at that intersection – “Seal River Crossing”
But for me, “Tree Children” by Leo Mol, also at Portage and Main, spoke to me more.
This is a really interesting installation by way of context – the people are all children, yet look joyless in this childhood activity. Is that commentary on this area of Winnipeg being very business and commerce focused? Is it pointing out the aspects of urban planning that sometimes take the joy out of commercial areas of our cities? Sometimes the best pieces of art pose more questions than answers.