Karen Mills, founder of Public Art Management, is the public art advisor for Pier 27. Luckily, she was able to give us a sense of how public art is chosen for developments in Toronto. Read her explanation about the process below.
It's no doubt that Toronto excels in the realm of arts and culture. But beyond our museums, galleries, and music scene, Toronto holds one of the most important collections of contemporary "public art" in North America. As private development grows, public art increasingly becomes part of our urban identity.
So, how do we choose our public art? Part of the planning and development approval process requires that the City of Toronto secures certain public benefits from developers. One way that Cityzen does this is by participating in the Percent for Public Art Program.
The first part of the process involves proposing a public art outline with a public art advisor and city planning staff. The plan then undergoes review by an independent art body before reaching City Council for the final analysis. Once approved, the developer and the art advisor implement the plan, so that art and construction move together in harmony.
Pier 27 is seen as a development of international profile and stature, and the public art had to reflect this. This philosophy also mirrors the idea that Toronto is a city made up of people from around the world, giving us a cosmopolitan energy.
Following an invitational competition process with the advice of our art consultant, architect, and a jury of art experts and artists, we selected United Visual Artists (UVA), from London, UK, to devise artwork for Pier 27.
Comprised of young artists, lighting designers, software engineers and creative thinkers, UVA's clients include U2, Kylie Minogue, Massive Attack, Vivienne Westwood and the London 2012 Olympics.
Drawing inspiration from the idea of lenses contained in lighthouses, the signature for Pier 27 will be an elegant sculptural element resting in the landscape just north of the waterfront esplanade, emanating light to signal the development. This iconic work exists as a sophisticated and modern piece of stand-alone sculpture. A second element -- tied to Phase 2 at Pier 27 -- will form a portal near Queens Quay.
The fabrication will take place in Toronto, giving local manufacturers a chance to bring one of Toronto's most significant public artworks to life. Investing in public art will benefit the city, its visitors and the development, and will exemplify Toronto as one of the culture capitals of the world.