Will Art on Bronson be better than lipstick on a pig?

Bronson is downright butt ugly. And it’s unsafe too. Now the City proposes putting some public art on the street verges to “humanize” the experience. The City didn’t believe the community when we lobbied for a better, safer design (see previous Rescue Bronson stories). Instead they opted for a remake of the 1950’s horror show version. That nightmare unfolds daily.  Can public art be more than putting lipstick on a pig?

Battered and bruised community residents came into the Bronson Centre earlier this month seeking to find out. Seven artists had proposals on display.

The City had “steered” the artists to two sites: the roof of the Bronson Centre front entrance; and the fence along the lawn bowling club immediately northeast of the Bronson-Gladstone intersection. Some artists proposed pieces for both sites, some for just one locale.

Andrew O’Malley’s figures were made of acrylic plastic, with lights shining up from the base. The figures would be different colours, occasionally syncing up to be one colour, symbolizing a diverse community coming together. Fortunately, no wheelchair symbolism to hit us on the head.

Charlene LaFontaine’s proposal was for three metal spheres. Glass “moss” would grow on some surfaces, mimicking how a community accretes and grows over time. The largest globe was about 6′ in diameter, the smallest about 2′:

Tim desClouds had metal  tight rope walkers over the entrance to the Bronson Centre:

Tim did the chairs artwork for Bank Street in the Glebe. For the Gladstone area, he proposed an ornate set of “gates” made out of metal. These would have been ideally situated right on the corner of Gladstone and Bronson; the gates would have been functional when the current lawn bowling club departs and then the gates could have served as a main entrance to the enlarged park. Alas, the city apparently wants ALL the sculpture to face Bronson only, as it isn’t “Gladstone art”. Oh how the wheels of bureaucracy grind down the imagination of artists even while it claims to fund them.

Do you notice how many proposals include metal trees? What is it about Bronson and the City’s original proposal for fake plastic or metal trees (because they wouldn’t make room for real trees)  that has captured the public imagination?

Two other fence projects were proposed by  Detlef Gotzens and Cairn Cunnane.      One was more gothic in design, as if Tim Burton was designing The Fence on Bronson Avenue. I didn’t find it very engaging to pedestrians, but it’s eeriness somehow suited the bleak Bronson landscape.


The aluminum coloured fence design, this time with fused glass tops, reminded me of a whimsical fence made of willow sticks:

Artiste Josee Dubeau proposed a fence made of solid panels with small holes cut out. The inside edges of each cutout would be painted a bright colour. The effect was a bit like seeing a pixilated fence. I suggested to her to recycle the idea for the next phase of Bronson, when it goes under the Queensway. These panels could look stunning, if backlit, in the shadows of the overpass.

Artist cj fleury also had proposals for both the Bronson Centre entrance and the fence at Bronson and Gladstone. Her fence design was inviting to children and passers by to explore up close and intimate.

I thought O’Malley’s lit figures for the entrance roof to Bronson Centre, and desClouds entrance gate for the Gladstone end, were best. They were visible to motorists (and let’s face it, the majority of Bronson users are frazzled motorists suffering from road-design-induced anxiety), and pedestrians. They were worth looking at, and engaged the mind.

It remains to be seen what engages the bureaucratic mind.


4 thoughts on “Will Art on Bronson be better than lipstick on a pig?

  1. I think those glass figures would be much cooler if they were in three dimensions and were at street level. They would look kind of ghostly then. I like them never the less the best out of the proposals shown. I don’t find abstract fences to be very interesting unless they have a coolness factor such as forming a picture when viewed at certain angles.

  2. In addition to the rarely used lawn bowling site there’s the empty space at the SE corner (formerly a gas station). We at the neighbouring re-Cycles shop would love to see something temporary in that space to liven up the emptiness. Talk of a community garden a while back came to nothing, but perhaps Imperial Oil needs to be lobbied to allow an art installation? (Our shop has a never-ending supply of scrap metal and innertubes; surely someone could come up with something! 😉

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