Alberni’s public art piece officially unveiled

Port Alberni's public art piece was dedicated by local art and civic officials before a small crowd at Port Alberni city hall on Monday afternoon. The piece depicts an abandoned logging camp in the woods.

Former Rollin Art Centre administrator Gareth Flostrand explains the public art piece in front of city hall to onlookers at Monday's unveiling. Officials are inviting the public to submit ideas for naming the piece.

The yet-to-be-named public art piece on upper Argyle Street was officially unveiled on Monday morning.

The piece was dedicated by local art and civic officials before a small crowd at Port Alberni city hall.

The weathered industrial metal piece depicts an abandoned logging camp in the woods.

The eclectic collage consists of a skeletal logger, tourist with a camera, rail cart, fallen log, a bird atop a tree and a sword fern.

The finished product wasn’t at all what artist Jake James originally planned.

“I’d originally ­submitted a design based on fishing, it was a sports fisherman fishing,” James said.

“But I redesigned it based on old industry and the new direction the town is heading in.”

The piece was largely constructed out of local material including wood from McLean Mill and recycled metal from former logging sites.

“We kept it as local as we could,” James said.

The piece has both professional and esthetic appeal, Mayor Ken McRae said as he closely examined the piece.

“I spent most of my working life with a blow torch in my hand so I wanted to see how well he uses one,” he said. “At least we know it’s not going to rust.”

McRae took particular note of the figure of a logger sitting while holding an axe.

“My dad was a springboard faller and used to come home wearing a hat like that and carrying his saw and axe,” he said.

The piece is the crowning achievement for Gareth Flostrand, the recently retired director of the Rollin Art Centre.

“It’s been a long haul and it feels good to see it done – it’s definitely been a learning experience,” Flostrand said.

“That’s been the aim – to have it done by the time I retired.”

Artists usually name their pieces but not this time.

Community members are invited to submit names to entry boxes at city hall and the Rollin Art Centre with a draw to be held later.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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