The old Bank of Commerce, located downtown on Victoria Avenue in Thunder Bay, is a space enjoyed by the locals, and acts as a throughway for pedestrians. The space has immense potential, and with the help of the community, and the generosity of the landowner (Mr. Habib), we can transform the space into a sculptural garden. Together, we can lay pathways, grow food, and enjoy the inspirational space we will create!
In the summer of 2010, Lakehead University partnered with the City of Thunder Bay to develop a pilot public art course, Installation Art in Public Spaces, led by professor Sam Shahsahabi which took place at the Bank of Commerce (409 Victoria Ave.).
The temporary art installation was well received, and the property owner Mr. Ahsanul Habib encouraged the project to continue into the future.
INSTALLATION ART IN PUBLIC SPACES
You may recall the colourful installation, which included work by Breanna Bakkelund, Hannah Guthrie, Sam Shahsahabi, Kelly Greer, and myself, Carol Kajorinne
INSTALLATION ART IN PUBLIC SPACES: GARDEN, GROWTH, RENEWAL
Project participants spent much of their time preparing the site for the installation - cleaning up garbage and drug paraphernalia as well as landscaping and planting.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE BANK OF COMMERCE & URBAN GREENSCAPES
Not long after the artwork was taken down, the space reverted to collecting garbage.
Dan Fulton of Urban Greenscapes is a project volunteer, and cleans up the area whenever possible.
FALL CLEAN-UP WITH URBAN GREENSCAPES & VOLUNTEERS
Dan & I organized a "Clean Up" date Aug. 2012 where approx. 13 people showed up that cool, rainy day to help clean and lay mulch, donated by Dan, for future flower beds.
You can read more about the story through TB News, on our Facebook Page "Bank Sculpture Garden and Greenspace", or on our webpage on www.lakesuperiorartgallery.com
Thus far, I have assisted in writing two (unsuccessful) OAC grant applications, one in partnership with WSCC, and the another for a site specific installation created by myself. Grant writing initiatives will continue, the next in partnership with CAHEP.
COMMUNITY ARTS & HERITAGE IN EDUCATION PROJECT
CAHEP facilitates community based art programming that is youth centered in collaboration with educators/community leaders.
A group of artists and interested community partners met with CAHEP in January 2013 to brainstorm the art spaces and unique places of the Ogden/Simpson neighbourhood. Based on this meeting, CAHEP is currently developing proposals to create projects that engage the community and explore this unique neighbourhood. The Bank space is included as one of a number of spaces to create in.
CAHEP and Willow Springs Creative Centre have also been planning low-cost events to take place at the bank, including "Animate the Space" which occurred Fri. Feb. 15th, where participants created wind chimes and snow sculptures while sipping hot chocolate.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF CREATING A COMMUNITY ART SPACE
The installation art increased local traffic as it became an attraction,
the positivity that exuded from the artwork acted like a breath of fresh air for the community, providing hope, happiness, and inspiration,
garbage cans were put on site and the space was kept clean of garbage and drug paraphernalia,
foot patrol officers stated the crime rate was reduced in the area.
The Public art installation is an example of how public art/artists can beautify Thunder Bay and contribute to the development of strong, supportive, multicultural community.
ENTHUSIASM AND INSURANCE...
People are enthusiastic about the project, but Mr. Habib has stated that in order to work on the site, we must have insurance. Thus control of the project is a necessity, as there are also guidelines that must be followed when installing public art. There are also areas of the space that cannot be touched, or at least without permission, as it is a historical site and the walls are owned by Magical's Golf and Barbs Bargains.
Thus far, partners such as CAHEP have held the insurance while working on specific projects. However, in order for various partners to work in the space, it would be best to operate under one insurance provider.
THE BANK SCULPTURE GARDEN HAS IMMENSE POTENTIAL WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNITY
We are looking forward to a future filled with positive effects the space will enable and are enthusiastic in building a relationship with the community . The Bank Sculpture Garden would thrive having the support of the local BIA. Together we can help build a strong cultural community for the district.
SUPPORT FROM THE FORT WILLIAM BUSINESS DISTRICT BIA
If the local BIA were the lead non-profit involved, this would strengthen our grant applications as the project would clearly have support from the neighbourhood. We could then write proposals (for art supplies, to cover advertising costs, pay artist fees, etc.), and the BIA could submit them on our behalf.
Information from Carol Kajorinne presentation to the Fort William Business District BIA Annual General Meeting held March 27, 2013.