Appliance 'art' irks Vancouver resident

'Stovehenge' includes stoves, fridges, old tires

A Collingwood woman is confused about the citys definition of public art.

Loretta Houben said she was dismayed two weeks ago to find a row of what she thought were discarded stoves and fridges, a mound of old tires, a row of car doors and a pile of rusty box springs on the pathway on the east side of the Collingwood SkyTrain station. When she called the city her concern turned to confusion.

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When I called the city I found out the junk was for a public art project called Stovehenge created by Viva Vancouver, said Houben.

Houben discovered the goal of Viva Vancouver is to create public spaces used by communities that encourage sustainable and active transportation such as cycling and walking. But instead, Houben said, the installation attracted discarded junk including a used mattress, old couch and large grill dumped close by.

Im part of the Adopt a Block program and try my best to keep Ruby Street clean, said Houben of the route leading to the SkyTrain station. So when I first saw it I nearly cried.

Houben doubts such a project would have been approved for the West End, or for that matter, any neighbourhood on the West Side. She suggests if these projects become an annual event, a farmers market in the same space surrounded by colourful planters would be better suited to the neighbourhood.

Artist Andrea Berneckas, who helped create Viva Collingwood with designer Carole Alexander, said the installation was dismantled this week. But for the two weeks it was in place swap meets were held each Saturday.

They were great. We had musicians and food vendors and farmers and a woman who makes hula hoops who gave workshops, said Berneckas.

She added Houben wasnt the only resident confused by the installation. When the recycled objects were first dropped off on the property many locals tried to buy them. There were some problems at the beginning with conceptualizing the design, said Berneckas. A lot of people were checking out the tires and asking the price.

She added once the installation was completed, its concept became clear. Berneckas said the point of the project was to demonstrate how discarded items can be recycled, repurposed and reinvented. One example, she said, was planting flowers in the tops of stoves where the burners once sat.

It became so popular that when we brought in a working sink we needed to bring in food vendors, a woman thought it was a new piece of the installation and got all excited, said Berneckas.

The installation included a free library created across four parking spaces where passersby could drop books off and browse for others to read. That was really popular, said Berneckas.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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