William Johnson was filled with pride as his steel tree sculpture was unveiled as Lacombe’s newest piece of public art.
The Lacombe Public Art Collection Committee and the city unveiled The Kinetic Tree, a steel tree with birds and maple leaf shaped gaps for the sun to shine through, on Wednesday afternoon.
Johnson, of Ravensfire Sculpture Studio in Edmonton, said he has fallen in love with the city since beginning the sculpture in June.
“When I got the phone call saying I was chosen to make this I was ecstatic,” said Johnson. “This isn’t just me doing a job, leaving it here and saying ‘next.’ I feel like I’m now connected to this city.”
The sculpture sits at the south end of 49 Street at 50 Avenue in downtown Lacombe.
Johnson said he was excited to show Lacombe residents the finished product.
“I’m just so proud to have this sitting here,” he said. “This tree is a part of me. I’m happy I can stand here and look at it once and for all – it feels absolutely perfect.”
A lot sweat and blood went into Lacombe’s new public art piece – especially blood, said Johnson.
“The tree actually bit me. I have a gash on my leg that will produce a scar. That’s something I can always remember Lacombe by,” he said.
Shirley Flinn, a Public Art Collection Committee member, said she’s very excited to have more public art in Lacombe.
“Every time somebody drives by they’re going to see it and that’s great,” she said.
When the committee was looking for new art, members only knew that they wanted a tree of some kind. Johnson showed them a drawing of what he wanted to create and Flinn said she loved it.
“I had no idea how he was going to make that drawing a reality, but seeing it now it’s just amazing. It blows my mind,” said Flinn.
This is just one of many public art projects Flinn hopes to see in the future, she said.
“Each piece is special and we’ll just continue to add pieces as we can through the city,” said Flinn.
Maureen MacKenzie, community services executive assistant and advisory member for the committee, said it’s nice to have everyone’s hard work come together.
“It feels good to have the artist be so happy with it and all the people here seem to love it too – so this all feels really special,” MacKenzie said.
Mayor Steve Christie was on hand for the public art unveiling as well. He said one of the goals of public art pieces like The Kinetic Tree is to increase appreciation for the arts.
“Public art is a key component to the attractiveness and identity of our city. It demonstrates the character of our community and identifies a moment in time,” he said.