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Julian Opie, one of the best pop artists of his generation, was in town yesterday to watch his striking new work light up East Village. Promenade, Opie’s 24-foot LED tower, is animated with the distinctive figures that are a signature of the internationally-known artist. “The figures sweep the landscape, endlessly passing each other,” Opie says. “It’s like a ballet.” The bright yellow of the installation, on 4th Street SE at 5th Avenue, can be seen for blocks, and commuters on the 5th Avenue Flyover get an eyeful as they go by. “It’s a marker for the new East Village, an identifier for the new life being created in the neighbourhood,” Opie says.
Promenade expresses movement of all kinds: people, traffic, the flow of the Bow River. Each of Promeade’s subjects is programmed to move across each panel face at timed intervals, which changes the installation constantly. In this endless dance of passersby, everyone is oblivious to the other.
Opie’s work is exhibited internationally, but he says that Promenade is the first time his figures walk around corners. It’s only the second Opie in Canada, and it’s the biggest one.
At CMLC, they couldn’t be more delighted. “Artwork is part of the software that gives a neighbourhood its true soul and character,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president and CEO. “It makes the neighbourhood more inviting, more engaging and ultimately more livable."
Opie’s work was chosen by a seven-member advisory panel made up of members of the RiverWalk design team, City of Calgary’s Public Art Program and Yves Trépainer and Kevin Baer of Trépanier Baer Gallery.
Enjoy the Promenade, and keep your eyes open – another major installation will be announced for East Village in 2012 to commemorate our Cultural Capital status.