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Calgary Company Announces Not One But TWO Gifts of Public Art by Internationally Renowned Artists

CALGARY.- The Torode Group of Companies reached under the tree and pulled out a big visual arts gift for all Calgarians. Torode announced the purchase and installation of two major public art sculptures to be installed along some of Calgary’s busiest streets.

“We are so proud to continue to offer Calgarians a chance to be awed, excited and engaged by art, right here in our city. Torode believes in Calgary and its people. That’s why it’s investing in it with many exciting and cutting edge real estate developments and art projects,” said Robin Murphy, Director of Marketing and Public Art, Torode Group of Companies.

Internationally celebrated artist Steve Tobin sculpted one of the works. Titled Calgary Root, the sculpture comes from his steel roots collection. Tobin is perhaps best known for his piece, Trinity Root, a tree root sculpted in bronze, created to commemorate 9/11. The tree root came from a 70-year-old sycamore tree that stood in the churchyard near St. Paul’s Chapel. When the World Trade Center Towers crashed to the ground, the force heaved the large sycamore tree straight out of the ground. It fell in such a way that it protected the historic tombstones and the church from the falling debris, including a steel I-beam. The tree is said to have absorbed shock waves similar to those of a nuclear explosion, deflecting them away from the church. From then on, it was called the tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel. It took Tobin and his team of assistants months to create the three-ton sculpture.

Tobin’s Calgary Root sculpture will be given a prime location when it is installed in January in front of Torode’s new downtown retail and office tower 8 West. On the corner of 8th Avenue and 8th Street SW, the glossy ivory, bent carbon steel pipe sculpture will make a huge visual impact standing almost 8 metres (24 feet) high above pedestrians passing by underneath.

“Torode is honoured to bring this internationally recognized artist’s work to Calgary. 8 West will offer a stunning backdrop to this thought-provoking steel root sculpture. It really is the perfect spot for it, right across the street from an urban green space. We know Calgarians and their visitors will enjoy this work of art,” enthused Murphy.

The second sculpture is being made by one of Calgary’s most celebrated and loved artists, Jeff de Boer. Known for his ability to connect with a wide audience through his creations, de Boer is most widely recognized for his sculpture of a life-sized horse on permanent display at Glenbow Museum. de Boer is also known for his whimsical, child-friendly sculptures, including several displayed at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and of course, his kinetic giant wind-up toys depicting Canadian aviation pioneers at Calgary’s International Airport.

For Torode, de Boer has created a giant, glowing steel ball that performs a mesmerizing light show set to music. Called Light the Universe and Everything those who pass by the sculpture, to be located on the northeast corner of 1st Street and 13th Avenue SW will be treated to a magical feast for the eyes when the almost 6 metres tall (18 feet) sphere performs its street side performance. This artwork will serve as an important landmark for the Hotel Arts building and will define the project in response to the global, contemporary vision of both Torode and our city. Torode is also set to install de Boer’s sculpture early in the New Year.

Today’s public art announcement is one of several Torode has made in the last several months, proving its commitment to becoming a leader in promoting art and culture in Calgary. In early June, Canadian artist Micah Lexier was announced as the winner of a $1 million international invitational public art competition held by the Torode Group. His imaginative conceptual design of a half-kilometre long ‘scribble’ will be installed in late 2009 at arriVa, the landmark condominium development in the heart of historic Victoria Park. In September, Torode installed American artist Dennis Oppenheim’s sculpture of an upside down church in the company’s upcoming development, Ramsay Exchange. It’s become a frequently visited site by Calgarians and a must-see by visitors.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Torode’s vision for an art-enhanced Calgary,” said artist Jeff de Boer. “Already, Calgary is seen as a great city. But now, Torode’s art vision and follow-through will get Calgary recognized as an amazing city.”

Many agree with de Boer. By bringing major works of art to Calgary, Torode is helping to put Calgary on the world stage for culture. With the announcement of the upcoming installation of these public artworks, Todd Hirsch, senior economist at ATB Financial said, "For Calgary, at this point in its growth as a national and global city, a strong arts scene is critical. The ability of our city to attract and retain people, and our economic potential, hangs in the balance. Calgary needs to provide a well-rounded sense of community if we want to become one of the great cities of the world, and art needs to be a part of that."

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