Traffic passes a sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Traffic passes a sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary mayor weighs in on controversial art piece

Calgary’s mayor says controversy over a $500,000 public art installation has convinced him the city’s art policy needs to change.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi admits he hasn’t personally seen Bowfort Towers, a steel and rock sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, and hasn’t formed a personal opinion on it yet.

But he says the city’s public art policy needs more civilian input than the small panel that currently oversees projects.

He’s also calling harsh criticism of the project “unfair” and is comparing it to a “lynch mob.”

Earlier this week, some critics complained the towering sculpture appears to emulate Indigenous burial scaffolding, adding Geist should have collaborated with local elders and artists.

Geist, who grew up in North Dakota, has previously said he did speak with Blackfoot elders and has said the use of four towers in the piece is a nod to the traditional significance of the number, but has denied accusations of cultural appropriation.

The use of rock and steel has long been a staple for the artist, whose work has been displayed around the world for more than 40 years.

Nenshi says the piece was thoroughly vetted by aboriginal experts.

“There was not just a traditional knowledge keeper, but a particularly skilled knowledge keeper whose expertise is in Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism who had been consulted on this particular project,” says the mayor.

“So, again, the city followed the Indigenous policy consultation.”

Currently, all public art is chosen by a panel of seven members, with six of those being civilian volunteers.

The mayor says that isn’t enough of a conversation with Calgarians. He thinks there should be more consultation and looks forward to seeing any of the motions brought forward by his colleagues when council meetings resume in September.

City councillor Sean Chu, a vocal opponent of public funding for the arts, has called the sculpture ”the worst kind of wasteful spending of tax dollars” while many on social media have criticized the look of the piece. One person suggested it belonged in a recycling bin.

(CTV Calgary)

The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Most Read