Saturday afternoon saw the unveiling of another major work of public art in Toronto, and this one is simply astounding; Rising, by Shanghai-based Zhang Huan, was unveiled in a ceremony on Saturday outside Living Shangri-La Toronto on University Avenue north of Adelaide. Descriptions follow each image.
A small crowd gathered in advance of the unveiling at 1 PM. At its peak all but one lane of University southbound was closed to traffic.
Those in attendance included (from the left) City Councillors Adam Vaughan and Gary Crawford, Art Gallery of Ontario Director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum, and of course Zhang Huan, clad in light gray.
Huan leads an incense burning ceremony in advance of the reveal. The developers, Westbank Corp.'s CEO Ian Gillespie, looks relaxed in a black t-shirt and jeans near the right, while Ben Yeung of the Peterson Group, reaches out towards Huan.
Several speakers addressed the crowd prior to the reveal, including Matthew Teitelbaum of the Art Gallery of Ontario, who was responsible for putting together Westbank and Peterson with artist Zhang Huan.
Emcee Jill Killeen counts down to zero and the curtain drops… slowly! (There were many spots which snagged the rope holding up the curtain, but it was all off of the amazing amazing sculpture after a minute.)
Huan, standing with his interpreter, read out a poem 'breathing life' into Rising.
The sculpture rises over a reflecting pool. Stone has yet to be placed around the edge to stop people from accidentally falling into it.
Huan's translator holds a plaque from the City of Toronto recognizing Huan's contribution to the city while she, Gillespie, Huan, and Yeung converse after the reveal.
Huan and his translator tackle questions from the media. Various detail shots of the work follow.
I had a chance to talk with Ian Gillespie after the ceremony to learn more about what is upcoming for the stainless steel sculpture.
Rising will sit behind a fence over the next few months until the hotel and residences open in August. During that time stone edging will be placed around the reflecting pool, and a glass screen will likely be installed to protect the work at street level. Lighting will be installed in the pool and in the overhanging soffit (which is still to receive its final cladding). More birds are yet to be installed as well, including under the soffit, 'flying' into the lobby, and on the exterior of the tower as high as the 18th floor.
It's quite an exciting piece, and we can only anticipate its full effect upon completion later this year. A work of this scale at such a prominent location bodes well for the streets of this city. Few developers will have the budgets to erect similar monuments (rumours of the cost of Rising are in the range of $5 million, easily exceeding the 1% of the total cost of the building's budget required by City bylaws to be spent on public art), but this work will present a challenge to those coming after it to be as daring.
It seems we are in somewhat of a golden era of public art at the moment, and terrific pieces of varying scales are being added to our increasingly richly appointed city at an astonishing rate. UrbanToronto has covered several dedications as of late, and we look forward to more in the months ahead. In the next week we'll bring you a peek at an upcoming work by Milan-based Sandro Martini at Lanterra's Burano condos on Bay: it promises to change that stretch of Bay Street forever.
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