By Kristin Lim
I’ve been encountering alot of public art installations throughout Burnaby lately. Some decades old and standing strong, others newer, yet still recalling Burnaby’s past while simultaneously commenting on its present.
Or as with Burnaby Art Gallery’s offsite exhibitions do, shining a spotlight on emerging contemporary artists.
Here are just a few ways to explore some of Burnaby’s rich public art.
Ken Lum, The Retired Draught Horse and the Last Pulled Log
Kings Crossing, 7310 Kingsway, Burnaby
Unveiled in March 2020, The Retired Draught Horse and the Last Pulled Log is a sculpture in two parts by East Vancouver-raised, Philadelphia-based artist Ken Lum. At the busy intersection of Kingsway and Edmonds, sits a bronze horse in an awkward seated position. The old draught horse is monumentalized in the act of taking a rest from the logging work it would have done, head lowered, back slouched, stomach bloated, and yoke still attached. The sculpture references the labour history of Burnaby and the site’s important agricultural route transporting essential resources into the city of Vancouver. It also references the current development the area continues to see. A second component of the public art piece, a 14-foot long bronze log with a broken chain that the horse finished pulling, is situated on the Edmonds side of the building. The artist suggests rubbing the horse’s yoke for good luck! Lum’s public art can be found throughout the Lower Mainland, the most iconic being Monument to East Van, the cross that luminates Clark Drive and 6th Avenue. Others local works of his include: Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White, four scaled-down boats on the roof of the Vancouver Art Gallery, A Tale for Two Children: A Work for Strathcona, a photo-text piece, typical of Lum’s work, and from shangri-la to shangri-la, a replica of shacks that were erected on the Maplewood mudflats in North Vancouver.
Lead Pencil Studio, Old Column
Modello, 4360 Beresford Street, Burnaby
A 25-foot sculpture in the shape of a tree stands tall at Willingdon and Beresford Street. The 1300-pound column is made of intricately welded stainless steel wire and steel wire filigree, a frequent medium of Lead Pencil Studio, the art and architecture collaboration between Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo. With one leaf-covered branch sticking out the column, the work references the Douglas Fir trees at nearby Central Park, Burnaby’s former old growth forest. You may recognize the Seattle-based duo’s other public art piece when crossing the Canada-U.S. border—Non-Sign II, a large-scale installation consisting of a billboard-shaped blank space surrounded by tangled metal similar to Old Column.
Alex Joukov, Fun Generic
*Note: This exhibition is temporarily closed until further notice due to a fire in the Bob Prittie Library
Bob Prittie Metrotown Library, 6100 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby
Vancouver-based tattoo artist and illustrator, Alex Joukov has work on view at Metrotown Library as part of Burnaby Art Gallery’s offsite programming. On until September 12, 2022, Joukov’s illustration work references pop culture and classical art. Drawing from a personal visual library, her collage-style paintings bring together seemingly disparate objects and characters to create narratives that comment on the human condition. Joukov’s illustration can be found on event posters, murals, and bottles of Marrow Vermouth.
*See banner image
Tamana S.H. Djuya, Struggle
McGill Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby
Also part of Burnaby Art Gallery’s offsite programming, Tamana S.H. Djuya has work on view at McGill Library through September 13, 2022. Born in Afghanistan, Djuya is a multidisciplinary visual artist who lives and works in Vancouver. Her work draws on traditional Persian calligraphy, blending ink and water, childhood memories, and present-day life.
SFU Burnaby Campus
Head up the mountain to SFU’s Burnaby’s campus for the most concentrated collection of public art in the SFU Art Collection. For self-guided walking tours divided into different areas of campus, refer to this handy guide. Highlights include numerous art by renowned Indigenous artists including Susan Point, Jim Hart, Robert Davidson, and Bill Reid. Other highlights include Damian Moppett’s Large Painting and Caryatid Maquette in Studio at Night (Sculpture Version) and Gordon Smith’s two tile mosaics, which initiated SFU’s Art Collection in 1965. Sadly, I missed seeing Campus Project earlier in the Spring, where first-year visual arts students of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts presented 38 site-specific art installations throughout the Burnaby campus. I will be keeping an eye out for future public art exhibitions here, that’s for sure!