I am among a handful of people walking along Jasper Avenue on a rainy day when I look up and see a piece of art hanging from a lamp post. I recognize the style as that of a fellow that goes by Smokey. Below it are words authored by Edmonton's former poet laureate, Roland Pemberton. One after another, the banners unfold, and line by line the poem takes shape.
The piece is called “Monuments (The City in Three Parts),” and it is a collaboration between Pemberton and four local visual artists—Tim Rechner, Anya Tonkonogy, Nickelas Johnson and Pearl Rachinsky.
The poem discusses the concept of “a city vs the city” and the unique characteristics that give the people who dwell here a sense of place. As Pemberton explains, the idea was to have a poem about Edmonton stretching across the core of our downtown. “Basically this whole thing is a way of fooling people into hanging out on Jasper Avenue,” he says with a grin.
In true unitary urbanist tradition, “Monuments” integrates so well with its metropolitan surroundings that it blends the functional and artistic elements of the city to create a new atmosphere of exploration and play. It is an ideal example of how the city can transcend top-down development and nurture curiousity in our local culture. V
Chelsea Boos is a multidisciplinary visual artist and avid flâneur. Back words is a discussion of her explorations in Edmonton and a photographic diary of our local visual culture.