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Picture Perfect Public Art in Ottawa

You don’t have to be inside a gallery to appreciate art. This city is filled with unique public art pieces and commemorations that offer fun photo ops. Get ready to strike a pose! By Misa Kobayashi.

From left: "The Living Room" at City Hall, photo credit National Capital Commission. "Maman" at the National Gallery of Canada, photo credit Louise Bourgeois Trust.

THE LIVING ROOM
This piece of work, from architecture design firm Urban Keios, inverts public and private space by situating everyday objects and activities in public view. The fun colours and shapes, as well as its surprising placement outdoors, make this an entertaining stop for families. The piece encourages public interaction, so whether you’re reading, resting, conversing, or playing, the audience becomes part of the art.
Where: Ottawa City Hall, Laurier Avenue

MAMAN
Obviously, not for anyone who’s afraid of spiders. This towering bronze creature by Louise Bourgeois stands nine metres tall, looming over all who venture under her. It’s up to you to decide if she’s protective or menacing, but it certainly makes for an impressive photograph to show the folks back home.
Where: National Gallery of Canada

Photo credit: National Capital Commission.

OSCAR PETERSON
When walking past the National Arts Centre downtown, you’ll probably notice the Oscar Peterson commemoration. Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in 2010, this figure represents the late Canadian jazz virtuoso, whose music continues to influence musicians today. The artist, Ruth Abernethy, crafted the piece to invite visitors to have a seat at the piano next to the legendary music man.
Where: Corner of Elgin Street and Slater Street

Photo credit: National Capital Commission.

NEVER GIVE UP
Both young and old will recognize Maurice “The Rocket” Richard as the hockey hero from the Canadian children’s book The Sweater. He spent 18 years in a Montreal Canadiens jersey (making this the perfect stop for Habs fans!) and was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games, earning him the status of a Canadian hockey icon. The monument by Au coeur du Bronze captures The Rocket in action, taking off down the ice.
Where: Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau

Photo credit: National Capital Commission.

DANCING BEAR
Its name alone will charm children. This was the first public art piece by an Inuit artist from Nunavut to be placed in Ottawa. When not making art, Pauta Saila supplemented his livelihood as a hunter. He said that this carved bear is playing the way he saw real bears play on the ice field while he was hunting. Whatever the bear’s doing, we think he’s pretty cute.
Where: Jeanne d’Arc Court, ByWard Market

Photo credit: The Embassy of Mexico in Canada.

EMOTIONAL GEOMETRY
Fourteen colourful, large-scale sculptures decorated Jacques-Cartier Park in this temporary exhibit that ran until September. Sebastian, one of Mexico’s foremost artists, has earned an international reputation for using geometry to invent and express his own language. The sculptures were on view until Sept. 20, after which one was selected to remain on display.
Where: Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau

For more information on public art in the capital, see www.canadascapital.gc.ca.

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