Randy Cleveland: Casting a Context for Creativity
The Spirit of Kelowna Medallions
True to its purpose of expressing community spirit, the Spirit of Kelowna medallions project has been a collaborative effort. Many have given their ideas, talents, and hard work not only to creating the medallions, but to completing the installation at Kelowna City Hall.
The installation resides under the south-facing skylights and adjacent to the central 3-storey public stair in the public entrance lobby. The medallions are mounted on a 10-meter long rammed-earth wall which, supervised by Solum Rammed Earth of Penticton, tells its own story about the Spirit of Kelowna. Composed of horizontal strata of different coloured earth bands, the walls look like geological cross-sections of the local terrain, representing a vertical cut through time and the foundational terra-firma of this place. The vertical 2.5m high surface of this wall has been scraped away to reveal the 104 medallions, suggesting that the Spirit of Kelowna is abundantly embedded like veins of precious medal in the earth of this Okanagan community just beneath the surface. As visitors walk along the wall toward the central stair, they find that the wall has been broken, or displaced, and the seams of coloured earth have shifted. This evokes images of an earthquake or some other major event or opportunity that has opened the earth to reveal the "spirit of the place". At the point where the wall is broken apart, a gateway has been formed from salvaged wood from another of Kelowna's fires, the loss of the historical Kelowna Secondary School.
The environmentally responsible walls are made of local materials and a minimum of water and cement, and are themselves a unique artistic expression. For two long weekends, over 3 dozen volunteers gave personal expression to the shape, texture, and colour of the walls, providing a solid canvas for Geert Maas to compose the medallions to tell further stories based on colour, theme and context.
The Spirit of Kelowna installation borders City Hall's public pathway from the entry to the central stair. The view between the walls frames a public bench beside a garden that is watched over by Dawn MacNutt's bronze Sentinel. It is here, where people meet, that the story comes to rest.
Installing the Spirit of Kelowna has been an exercise in
collaboration. The entire installation, both as a process and a final
product, was conceived from the outset as a context for creating public art;
created spontaneously, within an open-ended framework. The
Spirit of Kelowna is the permanent artefact of an artistic performance.
SPIRIT OF KELOWNA
A celebration of art & community
The extraordinary Spirit of Kelowna medallion project brought a cross section of the community together in a spirit of learning and sharing to create an impression of what was in their hearts.
Their vision of Kelowna's community spirit is powerfully
expressed through the diversity and uniqueness of the medallions that were
created under the supervision of artists Geert and Elly Maas.
Now brought together in a harmonious whole in the pages of this
unique and beautiful book the perfect legacy of a great community event.