Dogs on the Move Staying Longer

Memento - Pink - exterior - side and back on street

Gisele Amantea’s Untitled (Poodle) has been gaining quite a bit of media attention. This is not too surprising when one considers that the work is a permanent 7-foot high cast aluminum sculpture of a porcelain poodle figurine that sits atop a 25-foot high pole.

The artwork was inspired by activities on the street itself. The artist notes [PDF]:

“Untitled (Poodle) flows from the material culture that contributes so strongly to the character of the street in the mid-Main area . . . typically characterized by the presence of a multitude of objects that tend to have a personal meaning and relate to everyday life.” 

Like all good art, there are those who find this resident in the new park at Main and 18th ridiculous or too costly. However there are also those who find the project charming. An anonymous citizen has taken their affection for the Poodle to a height not yet bestowed upon a Vancouver work. The person has anthropomorphized Amantea’s work giving it voice as MainStPoodle on twitter.

Vancouver has many pieces that significantly mark the neighbourhoods they inhabit. These include Grandview Woodland’s Monument to East Vancouver by Ken Lum, Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca on the northern side of downtown along the waterfront, and now Amantea’s Untitled (Poodle) in the middle of main street. It’s Public Art as place-making. Is it a wonder that Kitsilano ponders what might mark them?

And here for a short while (longer)…

Untitled (Poodle) is the only permanent piece in the Memento  series of works that can be seen along the Main Street corridor. The collection also  includes 2-dimensional temporary works on three articulated trolleys on the #3 Main bus route.  This suite of poodle themed temporary works travelling the trolleys of Vancouver’s Main Street, have been extended past February and into April 2013.

Memento – Pink completely wraps an articulated trolley in a knit cozy of a pink poodle, and includes an interior card inside the trolley that references a how-to book from the 1960s for making wool poodle “cozies.”

Memento - Pink - exterior - side of bus front half - close

Memento - Pink - interior card - 1 - cropped

Memento – Envy, a panel showing a group of knit poodles looking jealousy at a porcelain poodle figurine, wraps the outside of a second trolley. Inside this trolley are three thematically related interior cards in which knit figures act as the dramatis personae.

Gisele Amantea Memento Envy

Memento - Envy  - interior card - 2 - cropped

Memento - Envy  - interior card - 3 - cropped

Memento – Multo, inside a third trolley,  features twenty-two interior cards depicting over 100 different examples of the modest but culturally interesting objects found in the shops along Main Street.

Memento - Multo - interior card - 4 - straight - crop

Memento - Multo - interior card - 6 - cropped

About the Artist

Gisele Amantea’s installations often use materials from popular culture to explore questions related to women, class and memory.  Her work also considers ornament and decoration in relation to architecture.  She has exhibited widely in Canada and internationally, including a major 2012 exhibition, Sweet Dreams, Hard Truths at the Museé d’art de Joliette (Quebec), and a large-scale commissioned work titled Democracy in Oh, Canada, a major survey of contemporary Canadian art this year at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts.  Memento is her second public art commission in Vancouver. Red Horizontal, 2005, is a 300-foot long band of red porcelain enamel tiles with images of the interiors of apartments in the False Creek neighbourhood, installed in the seawall seating below David Lam Park.  Amantea left Vancouver in 1995 for Montreal where she teaches in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University. She divides her time between Montreal and Mayne Island, BC.

About the Project

 88 BLOCKS ART ON MAIN is a project presented by the City of Vancouver and TransLink.88 BLOCKS ART ON MAIN is presented by the City of Vancouver and TransLink. The art program is the final piece of a large suite of Main Street improvements, aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging transit ridership, walking, and cycling. These enhancements, completed in 2010, include real-time transit displays, sidewalk improvements, and bike racks as well as artworks.

Planned and implemented by Maureen Smith of id ă Public Art Consulting, 88 BLOCKS includes three public art “exhibitions” over a multi-year period. Each includes artwork on articulated trolleys servicing the #3 Main route, temporary installations and at least one permanent artwork for the Main Street corridor. Besides Memento by Gisele Amantea, other projects include A Bright Future by Instant Coffee and Main Play by Germaine Koh.

Culture - Public Art - Communication - Public Art - LOGOThe City of Vancouver Public Art Program commissions contemporary art for public spaces. Subscribe to the listserve to be notified of upcoming artist opportunities in Vancouver and elsewhere.

6 thoughts on “Dogs on the Move Staying Longer

  1. It’s about time Vancouver showcased some public art. We have so little of it for a city this size. And when you considerthe beautiful setting … well, let’s buy some more!!! Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 01:06:27 +0000 To:


  2. Meaningless icon
    The installation rising on Main St has been a surprise and a disappointment. One wonders, if this was selected by a jury or a predisposed panel.
    The height above the sidewalk, the poodle looking down questions the choice regarding the ethos of Main St. The cost carried by a project like this needs to be accounted for to the public.
    Does the design have any relevance to Main?
    One has to question the process by which the artist has come up with this, does a few visit up and down the street justify project. There is no clear meaning, only risking form with the self indulging image masquerading as public art. This is a misleading signage that treats the street as a secondary prosthetic.. The sculpture turns into a caricature of itself, where the artist imposes her values.
    What does this represent may be the harsh reality of gentrification. This reflects poorly on the relation of community and art. Yes we live in a time of irony.
    The edgy area of east Main has succumbed to a stodgy not so creative professionalism. The imaginary layers have infiltrated with the rich compromising the cultural nature of the area. Is this the message we are communicating to the hip kids bored to the point where the upbeat pocketbook, extols the virtues of the bourgeoisie. The movement of art as radical ideas has fallen prey to the developer’s world.
    Few questions still remain in how the city gains by the choice of aesthetics that shuts out an improved design. The edginess is gone to the financial future driving Main St. We reside comfortably at home next to our poodles.


  3. Pingback: Poodles on the street… and in the alleys too! | Our City Our Art

  4. Pingback: A little new park a Main St. at 18 Avenue with no name. | brent granby

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