Prairie Winds Park Public Art Project
Prairie Winds Park has been a popular and well – loved destination and gathering place for nearly a quarter century. The park was identified for renewal and redeveloped in 2016/2017. Working in conjunction with the park design team and in consultation with community stakeholders, the artist developed a permanent public art piece called Seed Pod. The piece, inspired by the site and diversity of cultures found in the community, is a welcomed addition that enhances and enlivens the lookout feature planned at the top of existing toboggan hill. The public art budget for the project was $89,150 and was completed in 2017.
As part of the Prairie Winds Park redevelopment project, a new seating area, referred to as the lookout, was planned for the top of the existing toboggan hill. The location of the lookout was identified as an opportunity for public art. The City of Calgary described the requirements as:
- a small, low-profile gathering place
- fit into the landscape.
The artists carefully considered The City’s requirements, and created an artwork that is a place of discovery and delight while remaining fully integrated with the overall park design and spirit of the site. The artists said:
"The project seems like a perfect fit for us and we truly believe in the importance of designing spaces in residential and business environments that promote the engagement of people with nature in the places they live and use every day. The possibility of creating an integrated artwork that merges with the outdoor environment where people of all ages and abilities engage with one another, with diverse natural elements and with a public work of art is a worthy and realizable goal"
The artist’s concept for the artwork, called Seed Pod, includes:
A seed pod carried by the wind lands on the top of the hill of Prairie Winds Park. Nestled into the heart of the hill, the seed will germinate and grow. The pod is shelter to the seed of a native prairie wild flower. From anywhere in the park, the seed pod is invisible and may only be seen to those who trek to the top of the hill. A gravel path that winds around the hill leads to the pod, and from above, the silhouette of a seed pod and stem are drawn on the hill. The pod is a functional organic structure that serves as a gathering place where people can meet, sit in contemplation and relax.
The seed pod is invisible from any part of the park, and only reveals itself to those who complete the trek to the top of the tobaggan hill. The Seed Pod artwork is made up of two parts – the pod, and the seed.
The pod is a concrete and granular based oval structure sunken into the earth. People can access the inside of the pod through a ramp. At the centre of the pod, there is an oval pit filled with black rocks, known as Rundle Rock. The Rundle Rock is multifunctional, as it serves to visually anchor the seed sculpture, as well as providing natural drainage for rain water and melted snow. The pod has three seating platforms on one side, with the second platform/seat continuing all the way around the pod as part of the perimeter wall.
The seed sculpture, placed in the centre of the pod, references the seed head of a native prairie wild flower. The seed sculpture is cast in silicone bronze, with the outside edges being polished to a smooth finish, and the interior recesses retaining the natural texture created by the tools used in manufacturing. The seed sculpture is partially embedded into the pit of Rundle Rock.
Selection panel members, included community representatives, were thrilled by Incipio Modo’s concept. Their comments included:
- The concept is very well integrated into the overall park design and site.
- The hill, mound, seed are appropriate and invisible providing a wonderful sense of discovery and experience.
- Components of the overall artwork mound, trail (stem) seed (heart) are layers that align.
- Overall very inviting sense, appropriate to site and interactive
Incipio Modo is an artist collective comprised of sculptors Danira Miralda and Edward Beltran. They produce both abstract and figurative work in a wide variety of materials. The duo have experience in producing site-specific sculpture for public and private spaces of varying sizes and complexities, both in the built and natural environments. Their work can be found in private and public collections in Basel, Calgary, Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Seattle, Miami, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin and San Francisco. They have exhibited their work in public spaces such as the Art Gallery of Calgary and The Museum of Modern Art, The David Alfaro Siqueiros Museum, The Arocena Museum and the El Chopo Museum in Mexico City. Danira and Edward live and work in Calgary, Alberta.
Incipio Modo was chosen via a call to artist and selected by a project-specific selection panel of Calgarians. The artist and concept were selected in two stages by the selection panel. The seven voting members of the selection panel included three arts and design professionals, three representatives from local communities and stakeholders, and one City representative.
Incipio Modo conceived the artwork after meeting with community representatives, working closely with the park redevelopment team to ensure that the artwork was effectively integrated into the park, and taking into consideration site-specific information.
Members of the community were engaged prior to concept approval through face-to-face interviews and email feedback, which is summarized in a What We Heard Report.
The Artist Mentee
The Public Art Program invited local, emerging artists to submit applications for a Mentorship opportunity relating to this public art project. Working with the lead artists, local artist Greg Marshall will gain first-hand experience around the design and execution of public art, as well exposure to the processes and procedures required to complete a public art project through The City of Calgary.