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Will gay community be reflected in Bank St art?

Public gets a say at Jun 12 meeting

Credit: courtesy of the City of Ottawa

Goodbye rusty bike racks! Soon we’ll be able to park our bikes on Bank St without an imminent fear of tetanus.

The City of Ottawa held a competition last month asking local artists for designs for a series of steel panel bicycle racks to be installed on Bank St, from Laurier Ave to the Highway 417 underpass.

“Bank St is pretty narrow, so we don’t have room for bike rack sculptures or anything too bulky,” says City of Ottawa media relations person Erin Mawhinney, in reference to the extravagant bike rack art that other cities often have.

“But this project is a way to work more functional art into the city streets.”

From the 164 submissions, 50 drawings have now been shortlisted. They will be on public display on Jun 12, from 11 am to 8 pm at the Royal Canadian Legion on Kent Street.

Here, anyone can come meet the artists, record comments about the designs, and decide whether or not the racks look worthy of parking a trusty 18-speed bike.

Following the Jun 12 meeting, a selection committee will choose up to 30 different designs to be cut for the steel bike racks. That group is comprised of four people — a member of the Centretown Citizens Community Association, a local artist, someone from the BIA, and a gay business owner.

“We thought it was important to have someone from the GLBT community on board so that Bank St as a whole was accurately represented in the art project,” says Mawhinney.

“It’s a great idea because it gives opportunities to local artists,” she adds.

The call for submissions asked that the designs accurately reflect the character of the Bank St community.

Mawhinney says the designs range from ones about nature and architecture to ones more Bank St specific. Supporters of the Village on Bank St have been pushing for representation of the area’s large gay community.

The 90-some bike racks will be produced and installed by the City of Ottawa in the fall of 2009.