Whether you are walking or just driving on Alberta Avenue, it is hard to miss the creativity showcased through the display of public art. 

“Every sculpture displayed is part of a 16-year-old dream,” says Christy Morin, executive director of Arts on the Ave (AOTA). The organization was incorporated in 2007 with a goal to have creative spaces with accessible art and since then has organized extensive art showings, interdisciplinary festivals, and activities that blend artistic expressions in an educational, mentoring, and sharing environment.

Love Your Bean is a colourful addition to Alberta Avenue. | Supplied

The most recent display of public art on the Avenue was The Meeting, a circle of crouching red figures created by artist Wang Shugang. The red gentlemen moved their meeting elsewhere, and AOTA is now gearing up for its next public arts installation, a large sign proclaiming Let’s Heal the Divide, created by artist Toni Latour. 

“[The] neon sign will go up on the east wall of the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts building either by the end of April or early May. Work is underway and there is no definite date. The sign will foster inclusivity and a recognition of Alberta Avenue district’s ethnocultural identities, besides a proclamation to heal differences that divide us,” says Morin. 

She adds, “Movements focused on inclusivity are gaining popularity. Alberta Avenue has a lot of history. It is home to early settlers, new immigrants, and new businesses. We have residents from different professional, personal, and financial backgrounds and an assortment of ethnicities, cultures, and traditions.” What better place than the Avenue to display such a sign?

Years ago, Alfred and Maria Fung, two residents and property owners, introduced Morin to Barrie Mowatt, the CEO of Vancouver Biennale, which is a non-profit organization exhibiting public art. “A coalition was formed,” she says. Vancouver Biennale loans AOTA artwork as Alberta Ave aims to transform into a creative arts district. “These sculptures have an international footprint and we are very lucky to display it on the Avenue,” says Morin proudly. 

Not so far away, Eastwood Community Garden is getting ready to welcome a special visitor: Golden Pig. Artist Yong Fei Guan constructed Golden Pig from recycled plastic.

“Beauty lies in ashes,” Morin points out. “The Golden Pig is a classic result of debris viewed through a creative lens. It is a reminder to community residents to take recycling efforts seriously.” Golden Pig will complement the new sign by symbolizing dichotomy. The pig that represents a positive image in Chinese culture is looked upon negatively in other cultures. Golden Pig will be displayed when the weather becomes warmer, probably mid-June to early September. Call Eastwood Community League to request a time to see it. 

One of AOTA’s goals is to create opportunities to experience the joy of artistic expressions and to nurture creative environments.

“The sculptures are transitory public arts. Enjoy them while they last,” explains Morin, who recommends people take advantage of the creative delights the community has to offer while following COVID health guidelines at all times. ‘When someone stops to look at art for even five seconds whether to admire, take a picture, or just to talk about it, we have achieved our goal,” smiles Morin.