Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Will Bank St’s public art reflect us?

Gays promised a spot on jury

Credit: City of Ottawa


Planners are “on the verge” of releasing a detailed call for submissions for a public art competition that will see 90 metal sculptures on a renovated stretch of Bank St.

While the call for proposals asks artists to reflect the neighbourhood, it doesn’t mention the gay community by name, nor does it call for designs on themes of human rights or diversity.

“We let the artists do their research,” says Nesbitt. ” Because it’s a public art competition, they usually do. They want to win.”

In Nov 2007, Capital Xtra first reported that city funds had been set aside for a public art installation. For the first time, planners opted for a ‘functional art’ design, bike racks with metal silhouettes to be designed by winners of a competition. Unlike other public sculpture competitions, designers do not have to make the final products themselves. And that opens the field up to artists who don’t have a background in metalworking.

“The fabrication process is less important for artists,” says Nesbitt. “But not every kind of drawing will work. When you see these guidelines, you’ll see that they’re quite specific.”

The competition will likely open mid-April and run until roughly the end of May, says Karen Nesbitt, a cultural planner with the City of Ottawa. Shortlisted designs will be displayed in an open house this summer, giving community members the chance to make their comments.

When the project is done, up to 30 designs will be cut out of metal and installed as bike racks between Laurier and the Queensway. That means most of the designs will repeat several times.

The jury will be made up of a small group of local artists and community members. At least one member of the panel, which has not been finalized, will be from the gay community, says Nesbitt.

Plans for the competition were unveiled at a Mar 18 open house.

Queer people looking to participate can do so in one of two ways. Designers, sculptors and other artists are invited to submit their designs to the competition. As well, the community will be able to give its feedback when the finalists are displayed in June. Information about both will be posted on as it becomes available.