New Telus Garden office features large public art projects


Widow (Walking) by Janice Wright Cheney.

Widow (Walking) by Janice Wright Cheney.

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In the summer of 2011, artist Janice Wright Cheney was driving from Nova Scotia to her home in New Brunswick when she saw something by the side of the road — a bear curled up like it was asleep.

But it wasn’t asleep; the bear was dead. It saddened Wright Cheney and made her think of how a death affects those left behind.

Working with the idea of grief, she created two grizzly bears: one is standing on its hind legs — it was shown as part of the groundbreaking exhibition of Canadian art called Oh, Canada at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012 — and the other is in mid-stride on three legs with the fourth raised off the ground. The second bear is now on display on the fifth-floor reception area of the new Telus Garden building in downtown Vancouver. The piece is called Widow (Walking).

Wright Cheney said the bear is the one “left behind, the bear that grieves.


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“This work explores the impossibility of reconciling love, and desire, with death,” she said in a recent email exchange. “So it had to be big. It had to be a grizzly bear, because I wanted to express the enormity of grief.”

The roses used to form the bears are made from hand-crafted felt, a process that included taking pieces of felt, cutting out the pattern for each rose, dyeing them and then sewing the pieces into roses on a taxidermy form.

The deep red shade is the result of a unique process, Wright Cheney said. The carmine colour comes from cochineal dye, which is produced by insects that feed on cacti. The soft texture of the felt recalls the fur of the bear, but also contrasts with the animal’s strength and power. The love symbolized by the roses is the loss felt by the one left behind.

Wright Cheney’s work is one of several wall and sculptural pieces at Telus Garden that are open to public viewing during business hours, said Cathy Wardlaw, director of strategic projects for Telus. The company is also working on programming video art projects at night on the skybox projected over Seymour Street.

“We worked with the design team to let the art be part of the design (of the building), and not an afterthought,” Wardlaw said.

“We tried to incorporate (the art) from the beginning and looked at the meaning of the various art pieces themselves.”

Widow (Walking) by Janice Wright Cheney.

Widow (Walking) by Janice Wright Cheney.

Widow (Walking) by Janice Wright Cheney.
Created by Bocci, where Omer Arbel is the creative director, the lighting installation hangs in the curving stairwell on the 23rd and 24th floors. The coloured, hand-blown globes hang from metal wires of varying lengths so they gently sway in response to air currents.
Amy A. Thompson’s untitled work is made from copper and wood and suggests a sound wave extending across the country. Hanging in a hallway on Floor 5, its shape derives from the dots and dashes of Morse code, tree rings and leaf veins.
Brent Comber’s three Solid Spheres on Floor 5 resemble mini-globes of the earth made out of solid wood. They give equal visual attention to a tree in its various stages, from the oldest layer to the most recent. Comber, based in B.C., works with lumber rejected by industry and fallen old growth trees from the Pacific Coast.
Re-Visions is a city symphony of documentary scenes of Vancouver shown on five flat screens. The video uses repetition and abstraction as movement shifts dramatically from screen to screen.
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