At first I didn't see what the fuss was about at the official artwork unveiling last weekend at Main and 18th. Unless the soggy mess of dirt and blue metal fencing in front of the new condo complex was some sort of statement about building boom upheaval.
Maureen Smith, consultant for the Vancouver's Public art Program, had to point it out. Look up. Waaaay up. And there it was: a giant version of a ceramic poodle figurine, perched like surveillance infrastructure. The kind of object that you used to find along that area of Main Street but now would be more likely mined at a Value Village or Dollar Giant.
Whoa! I said.
That's the kind of reaction we like, she said.
Scale is a funny thing. Blown up to absurd proportions, the humble household curio becomes monumental. The condo-dwellers across the street now have a ceramic dog overseer. What's not to love?
You could blame it all on the artist's mother.
Gisele Amantea has said she owes her sensibility to the household curios that were the backdrop of Italian Catholic upbringing in Montreal. But we all know there's more to that story. Amantea has spent her prolific career riffing on the flocked wallpaper and the domestic clutter of cherubs and roses of her childhood.
The permanent sculpture is part of Amantea's Memento series that also involves slathering the outside of some No. 3 Main buses in what only appears to be a pink knitted cozy, as part of the ongoing 88 Blocks of Main public art program.
I take it all as a sign that my giant crocheted poodle idea I wrote about last month isn't completely ridiculous. Or maybe it is, and that's something to explore.
Poodles on parade:
By appropriating an advertising space, these curios raise fresh curiosity: Is it a Fido ad? The latest Telus animal? What's not to love about a hit of squishy pinkness against grey tarmac? More info