Across the GTA, public art is enhancing buildings and communities and making them more attractive and inviting to residents, visitors and passersby.
Art can take many forms such as large, playful modern sculptures, intricate lighting installations, coloured and etched glass embedded into the fabric of buildings, or even patterns and words integrated into pavement.
Some pieces of public art are not only decorative but also functional and provide illumination or a place to sit. Many pieces of public art help create a sense of place and some give a nod to the history of their location.
Much of the public art in the region was created through collaborations of land developers, municipalities and artists.
In the city of Toronto, public art is funded as part of a new development. Through its Percent for Public Art policy, the city requires developers to spend one per cent of the overall construction value of their new developments to create public art.
There are more than 200 public art installations that have come as a result of the public art policy.
Famous Canadian novelist and artist Douglas Coupland has created a number of them. He has worked with the development industry to create pieces such as Canoe Landing Park’s large red canoe and the colourful fishing bobbers that anchor Concord Adex Development’s CityPlace neighbourhood in downtown Toronto.
The park is enjoyed by residents and employees in the surrounding buildings as well as visitors who come to experience interactive art. In this case, the public art has also created and reinforced a sense of community in a newly developed area where there wasn’t a permanent community before.
Coupland also created the Monument to the War of 1812 soldier sculpture Monument to the War of 1812 at Fleet and Bathurst Sts., which was commissioned by BILD member Malibu Investments.
Outside the city, municipalities such as Markham and Mississauga have policies and programs that encourage developers to include public art in their development plans but they are not mandatory.
In Mississauga, one BILD member embraced the idea and voluntarily commissioned a work of art that is now establishing a sense of place for a new neighbourhood.
A sculpture by Canadian artist David James called Heaven and Earth was unveiled in July outside Hot Condominiums by Great Gulf. The landmark sculpture funded by the developer is located at the corner of Winston Churchill Blvd. and Eglinton Ave. W. Sitting at the gateway to the new community, this sculpture is topped with a mirrored sphere can be enjoyed by residents, visitors and anyone who travels through that major intersection.