Edmonton: Explored

September 4, 2008

By Mike Landry

Monica Pitre's billboard above a bar in Edmonton.

Amy Fung walks by the billboard at the end of her street in Edmonton at least once a day. Usually it advertises “just offensive billboard ads” for cars or loans she says. But one day last year, as people headed to the bar under the billboard as usual, she saw the ads had been replaced with art.

The billboard installation by local artist Monica Pitre was one of more than a dozen projects commissioned as part of Edmonton’s designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2007. It was also one of the few pieces from visual artists designed to engage with the public. For Fung, installations like Pitre’s marked a change in her city’s understanding of itself.

“For a city that’s more about sports and oil I think people need to know that art does actually interact with people on a daily basis,” says Fung, who is curating the show Edmonton: Explored at the Art Gallery of Alberta. “We’re finally looking at ourselves like we’re our own city. We’re not pretending we’re Dallas, Vancouver, LA or whatever.”

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