Aged public artwork Skywalk to be removed after 15 years of enjoyment
One of Calgary’s beloved public art pieces titled Skywalk is scheduled for removal. The 14-panel mural that depicts a stretched panorama of the chinook prairie blue sky is located on the south face of the Macleod Trail pedestrian overpass near the Canyon Meadows C-Train station.
The artwork by Derek Besant was installed in 2004 and is made of large-scale digitally printed photographs on vinyl. On a grey day, the Skywalk mural is a welcome glimpse of blue sky, and on a sunny day it helps blend the bridge structure into the skyline.
“Skywalk was originally designed to have a 10-year lifespan, and we’re so pleased Calgarians have been able to enjoy it for an extra five years,” says Jennifer Thompson, Manager Arts and Culture at The City of Calgary. “However high exposure to sunlight and UV has deteriorated the art piece causing it to yellow and become brittle. As a result, the artist’s imagery is disfigured and Calgarians can no longer experience the artwork as it was originally intended.”
Although the public art piece will be missed, Thompson says removal is necessary as The City doesn’t want the vinyl to degrade to a point where it could fragment and fall onto the roadway below. Another piece of art is not planned to go in its place at this time.
The artist and The City are delighted with the visual impact that Skywalk has had over the last 15 years and are pleased that it was able to provide enjoyment to the public.
“The story of Skywalk gives us a bit of a glimpse into the natural lifecycle of public art,” says Thompson. “It also brings to the forefront the effort needed to look after Calgary’s public art collection. It’s a big job to make sure we’re caring for these valuable assets on behalf of Calgarians.”
The City of Calgary is responsible for conserving and maintaining approximately 1300 works of art in Calgary’s public art collection with pieces dating back to 1850. The first donations to the collection were made around 1911, and the earliest commissioned work, The Boer War Memorial in Central Memorial Park, was erected by The City in 1914.
The collection includes outdoor sculptures in parks and plazas, installations integrated into infrastructure, monuments, memorials, environmental art, temporary projects, street art and functional objects. Calgary’s public art collection also includes an assortment of portable art that contains photographs, paintings, sculpture, glass, installations, ceramic and textiles. The portable collection is rotated throughout public spaces. Pieces in Calgary’s public art collection can be viewed in every ward across the city.
Skywalk will be removed overnight on both November 28 and 29. In order to minimize impact on drivers, work will only be done between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Rotating lane closures on Macleod Trail north of Canyon Meadows Drive S.E. will take place both nights.