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.
“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 – 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.
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.
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 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.
The 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.