West Harbour (James St. North) GO Station Public Art Project

Project award

The volunteer citizen jury has selected the work “Bead Maze” by Laura Marotta as the winning proposal.

It is expected that the work will be installed in the spring of 2016.

Background

This report is an overview of the discussion and decision of the volunteer citizen jury which met at the Lister Building on Tuesday, October 13, 2015. The Jury reviewed the six short-listed artist proposals to determine which artist should be awarded the commission for an installation in the public plaza at the new West Harbour GO Station on James Street North. Jury members evaluated the proposals for artistic merit, response to competition goals and themes, appropriateness for the site and technical feasibility based on their review of the submission information, interviews with the artists and review of over 450 public comments.

Artists were asked to address the following goal and themes.

Goal: Public art at the GO station plaza should be evocative and engage the public imagination, convey a positive message, evoke civic pride, and help animate the plaza.
Themes: The work should consider the rich cultural, physical and historical context of the area and address one or more of the following themes:

  • Migration and mobility
  • The cultural diversity of immigration to the city
  • Connections: physical, visual or implied between modes of transportation, communities, landmarks, the past and present
  • The natural and cultural features of the site and its surroundings

Award

After discussing the various aspects of the short-listed proposals and the competition requirements, the jury assigned the highest score to Bead Maze by Laura Marotta. The commission for the work will therefore be awarded to Laura Marotta.

Jury comments

The James Street North GO Station Jury recognized the efforts of all of the artists that made submissions to the competition, particularly the six short-listed artists. All of the proposals were well considered responses to the competition and that made it a very difficult decision for the Jury. The Jury wishes to congratulate each of the six finalists on their efforts.

Laura Marotta
The jury felt that Marotta had a conceptually strong proposal that met the competition themes of migration, mobility and connections between modes of transportation because the Bead Maze recalls the intersecting lines and movement of a regional transit system. The fact that the piece brings to mind the bead maze toy common in pre-school playrooms was seen very positively by some jurors who thought this makes the artwork relatable to people of all ages; reinforces the plaza as a welcoming gateway; and highlights that the North End is valued as a child and family-friendly neighbourhood. This proposal was well received by the public who liked that it was colourful, playful and positively echoed the current revitalization of James Street North. The work therefore scored very well on Artistic Excellence and Response to Competition Goals.

The remaining Jury comments are listed alphabetically by order of the artist’s last name or artist collective name.

William Frymire
The Jury agreed that this work fulfilled the goal and themes of the competition as it spoke to Hamilton’s rich diversity and cultural imprint. The work spoke to the continual growth of Hamilton by means of people migration and immigration. The Jury was also impressed by the community engagement and environmental stewardship elements of the work (e.g. incorporating images of local residents, marble collection drive, use of recycled materials). They felt these elements would increase Hamiltonian’s sense of ownership of the work and decrease the likelihood of graffiti and other forms of vandalism. The Jury was challenged by the scale of the work. They commented it created a “wall” (30 feet in length, 10 feet in height) that could cut the physical space of the plaza in half. In addition, some jurors were concerned that the ratio of marbles to aluminum was low and that, upon execution, the artwork may not resonate as a face. For these reasons the work was scored lower by the Jury.

Vesna Jocic
The Jury found that Jocic’s work, as a timeline that spoke to the past, present and future of the site, was both accessible and interactive. It scored well on Technical Feasibility. Concerns were raised by the Jury that the proposal did not include the complete timeline text which was seen by all jurors as a critical component in judging the impact of the work. Some jurors felt that the work was overly diagrammatic, explaining rather than representing the competition themes. The work was not as well received as others in public consultation.

Solidoperations Inc.
The Jury was impressed by Solidoperations attractive and organic sculpture design. They liked the monumental scale; that the work was dynamic because the perceived shape would change as a person approached it or walked around it; and that the suggested location allowed for free flow of pedestrian traffic. However, jurors felt that the work did not address the competition themes as well as the other proposals. The proposal was not as well received as others in public consultation. For these reasons the work was scored lower by the Jury.

TH&B
The Jury agreed that TH&B’s work successfully addressed the goal and themes of the competition. They commented that, as an expression of a gateway to Hamilton and transportation in the region, the work made a succinct statement. The Great Lakes are not just bodies of water but are a fundamental transportation route. The steel frame construction with its industrial age look was seen by some jurors as a tribute to Hamilton’s history as a steel town and to others as a work lacking innovation. The jury had concerns that the work may not be as accessible to those walking through the plaza as some of the other works due to its height and that it may not be as impactful due to the number of other vertical elements such as light poles and trees on the site. Although this work was well received in the web-based public consultation, the Jury scored it slightly less than the successful proposal.

Brandon Vickerd
The Jury agreed that Vickerd’s piece was artistically excellent and, being made from bronze, was durable, and would be easy for the City of Hamilton to maintain. They liked the pedestrian scale of the work. However, some jurors found the work disturbing and noted that members of the public may not see the work as welcoming or reflective of their neighbourhood. Some jurors felt that it did not fulfil the goal and themes requirement as strongly as the other short-listed works. The proposal was also not as well received as others in public consultation. The work was therefore scored lower.

The Jury

  • Melissa Bennett - Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Hamilton/ Resident
  • Dave Gruggen - Local Business Owner
  • Elana Horowitz - Manager of Hub and Station Planning, Metrolinx
  • Helen Kirkpatrick - Central Neighbourhood Association Board Member/ Resident
  • Tim Potocic - Local Business Owner, Sonic Unyon Records/Supercrawl
  • Josefa Radman - City of Hamilton Arts Advisory Commission/ Factory Media Centre
  • Stephanie Vegh - Executive Director, Hamilton Arts Council/ Resident
Advisors to the Jury:
  • Therese Charbonneau - City of Hamilton Conservator, Tourism and Culture
  • Randall Dreise - Senior Project Officer at Metrolinx/ GO Transit
  • Ken Coit (Facilitator) - City of Hamilton Manager of Public Art and Projects, Tourism and Culture

Concept statement

This project will be a monumental bead maze. This very joyous replica serves as a monument to childlike imagination and elevates a familiar object from the everyday to the exceptional. As a child’s toy, the bead maze provides a bright and cheerful outlet for children to play as well as develop their hand-eye coordination, visual tracking and colour recognition. By changing the scale and context, this ordinary object takes on new meaning. In the station plaza of the West Harbour GO Station (adjacent to James Street, north of Murray Street) this work will present itself as a quirky navigation tool, like a visual exercise in wayfinding and as a sculptural metaphor for mobility and transportation.

The beads will be made from epoxy coated aluminum, stationed along metal tubes that recall, at a much larger scale, the popular child’s toy. The artist intends that the colour and shape of the tubing will respond to the station plaza location: a grey tube which traces the city infrastructure; a blue tube that spirals around giving form to the open air; and a green tube that winds through the sculpture, evoking the maneuvering possibilities of a GO train within the urban landscape.

A bead maze is a toy which demonstrates the mechanics of movement, transportation, and organization, while providing an emotional response of immediate delight. By scaling this universal toy up fifteen times, this sculpture will have a direct relationship to the body of the viewer and is designed to reinforce the various ways we connect with transportation. The fixed beads are positioned along the metal tubing as if they are swooping, sliding or have been brought to a complete halt. The organization of the fixed beads suggests a network in motion, just like the daily train service from the GO Station.

James Street North is a well-known epicentre for culture and style in Hamilton and the North End is valued as a child and family-friendly neighbourhood. This sculpture will reinforce those distinctive qualities and will serve to engage the imagination of community members, commuters, visitors, families and children. While it might reference a wayfinding schematic, the purpose of this sculpture is not to direct you to any specific location. Instead it works to incite a more whimsical way for you to imagine moving through space. This sculpture will make a lasting contribution as a cultural landmark to the new GO Station and to this great neighbourhood.

Public consultation results

Thank you to the 453 people who reviewed the proposals and provided their preferred selection and comments to the jury.

Call for artists

The call for artist closed on April 23, 2015. 34 proposals were received.

Reports

A focus group was held on October 20, 2014 to determine goals and themes that artists will be asked to address in their submissions to the competition.

Monday October 20, 2014 at 7 pm
The Lister Block, 28 James Street North Hamilton, Room B05

Attendees

  • Sean Selway - North End Neighbours
  • Matt Thompson - Beasley Neighbourhood
  • Helen Kirkpatrick - Central Neighbourhood
  • Stephanie Vegh - Arts Council, Resident, Artist
  • Melissa Bennett - Resident, Arts Professional
  • Katherine Roy - WAHC
  • Colina Maxwell - Centre 3, Arts Advisory Commission, Artist
  • Brandon Braithwaite - Social Planning, Neighbourhood Development Strategy
  • Elana Horowitz - Metrolinx
  • Agata Mancini - Resident, Young Architects Hamilton
  • Dave Gruggen - Dave Gruggen Photography, Local Business
  • Ken Coit - City of Hamilton, Facilitator
  • Ashleigh Bell - City of Hamilton

Purpose

To determine themes and/or goals, in keeping with the values and characteristics of the area and project parameters that artists making submissions to the competition will use to inspire and inform their proposals.

Background

Ken Coit provided an overview of the project site, scope, budget and selection process. The project budget is $100,000 of which $75,000 is allocated for artist’s fees, fabrication and delivery to the site and $25,000 for installation, honorariums and costs related to running the call. $50,000 of the capital portion of the project is funded by Metrolinx the remainder by the City. The site for the work is the easterly area of the new GO Station plaza, presently under construction just off of James Street North. Examples of themes and goals from other Public Art projects were provided for the group’s consideration.

Metrolinx provided the following goal statement for the project:
Metrolinx envisions the new GO station at James Street North as a model urban station that will be a welcoming gateway to Hamilton, one that successfully integrates with and contributes to surrounding neighbourhoods. The public art piece for the station plaza should be evocative and engage the public imagination, convey a positive message, evoke civic pride, and help animate the plaza.

Question

Focus group members were asked to address the following question:

  • What types of public art are appropriate for the GO Station plaza?
  • What are the important qualities and characteristics of James Street North and surrounding neighbourhoods that artists submitting to the competition should address?

Discussion

The following qualities and characteristics were identified as part of the general discussion addressing the question:

  • Diversity of the Neighbourhood
  • Mosaic
  • Cultural diversity
  • Area has been and is entry point to the City, WAHC was original Customs House
  • Expectation of arriving
  • Natural history of the area
  • Area has been filled/changed - a built-up layered landscape
  • Memory of original landscape/marsh
  • “Celebrating the past – creating the future”
  • Evolution of transportation on the site
  • Aspects of transportation, rail, boat, car, bike….
  • Railway History
  • Hamilton built on rail
  • Movement of materials/manufacturing that built this city
  • Like the rail yard
  • Industrial artifacts
  • Railway workers
  • Evolution of Hamilton
  • “Work should not to be a memorial to rail”
  • International Immigration – welcoming those ‘choosing to come to Hamilton'
  • Arrival & Departure for an expectation of what Hamilton was and is
  • Art should be reflective/transparent
  • Interactive
  • Views to harbour
  • Heritage Buildings
  • Name the Station Plaza – Metrolinx may consider this in future
  • Migration and Mobility
  • The work does not need to have a function as the site already has benches, bike racks etc.
  • Work will be approached from all sides
  • Connections – visual / physical
  • Bulletin Board / Poster Board function could be part of the work

Priorities

After a short break the group worked together reviewing the results of the previous discussion to identify the most appropriate goals and themes for the work. The following were developed:

In keeping with the Metrolinx goal statement the group felt that the work should encourage interaction.

The work should consider the rich cultural, physical and historical context of area and address one or more of the following themes:

  • Migration and mobility
  • The cultural diversity of immigration to the city
  • Connections; physical, visual or implied between modes of transportation, communities, landmarks, the past and present ….etc.
  • The natural and cultural features of the site and its surroundings

Contact us

Ken Coit - Program Manager Public Art and Projects
Tourism & Culture Division, City of Hamilton
28 James Street North
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 6281
Email: ken.coit@hamilton.ca