Ever wondered how Kelowna got that new bear sculpture on the waterfront?
Kelowna has acquired quite a number of pieces of public art over the years. From the infinity symbol in front of the Kelowna branch of the Okanagan Regional Library to Byron Johnson’s piece in the heart of the South Pandosy commercial district to the newer addition of the blue bear on Kelowna’s waterfront. To get some insider info, oook contributor Stephanie Moore, interviewed Amanda Parks, the current Chair of the City of Kelowna’s Public Art Committee
some background: The Public Art Committee of Kelowna, established in 1997, is comprised of 11 volunteers who lend their interest
and expertise in art and design. The Committee is guided by its mandate to work with the community
to humanize and animate the urban environment, increase the livability and artistic richness of the
community, and stimulate the growth of arts and arts-related businesses through the provision of public
Amanda Parks is the Chair of the Public Art Committee (PAC) and is employed as a Public Health
Coordinator for Interior Health. I had a chance to chat with Amanda to find out more about her
involvement in culture in Kelowna.
oook: Why did you get involved with the Public Art Committee?
AP: I was interested in getting involved in the arts community in Kelowna, when I moved here, as I had
worked in the arts in Port Moody for several years.
I feel a culturally vibrant community is extremely important. I want to live, work, and play in a
community where people have a sense of belonging and enjoy the beauty of our space. Public art
has the ability to bring communities together, stimulate thoughtful and challenging discussions, and
contribute to the overall economic and cultural success of the city.
In my work, I also see the links between a healthy and vibrant community and the health of its citizens.
Public art is a huge contributor to an overall healthy community environment.
oook: Do you have other arts interests?
AP: I am not an artist, but I have a genuine love of the arts and am proud to be an arts patron and supporter
in my community.
oook: What are some of the biggest challenges that the PAC has faced in the last year?
AP: There have been several challenges over the past couple of years resulting in a few projects not reaching
completion. The committee has worked with City Staff and Council to try and address these challenges
and is working on a review of the Public Art Program to define a strategic direction and vision and allow
it to be most successful for the public.
The first step is engaging more people in a conversation about public art and we are excited to have an
exhibition opening July 16th, at the Kelowna Art Gallery, to highlight what public art is, what the process
entails, and to engage people in cultural opportunities. This will include an open house on Saturday, July
23rd and panel discussion on August 11th.
oook: What would you say is the biggest success the committee has achieved in the last year?
AP: Perseverance! Despite recent challenges, our dedicated group of volunteers has continued to pursue
their passion and support public art in Kelowna. We have also had some wonderful Community Public
Art Projects, partnering local artists with not for profit organizations to work together in the community
and create public art.
After many years of development, we were able to unveil Bear, by Brower Hatcher, at Stuart Park and
have been pleased with the response and the overall outcome of the project.
oook: The pieces in the Public Art Collection all have interesting stories and meaning behind them. Once
people discover these stories, they often have a greater connection with the piece. Is there a piece
in the collection that you have grown to appreciate (or appreciate more) as you have learned more
AP: Discovering a piece and learning the story behind it definitely helps us connect with a piece. I have
particularly enjoyed discovering pieces in the collection that I didn’t know were there before. For
example, Go at the Capital News Centre and Escape to Stella Polaris at the airport. How many times
have we walked by these pieces?!
To learn more about Kelowna’s collection of Public Art, go to the City of Kelowna website for a downloadable Public Art Map