Walk About Kingston with Martello Alley -Episode 2 – That 70’s Vibe
Kingston is a beautiful city. It’s also very walkable. I often walk downtown and along the water, and see so many people taking in the warmth and charm of this city we live in. The part I enjoy most is the discovery of the art, historical plaques, and other points of interest.
As a public service to visitors and residents of our city, I decided to start sharing through a video log what I have happened upon.
For the second video I decided to highlight sculptures from the 1970s along the waterfront from Portsmouth Village to Confederation Park. So many people walk along this beautiful stretch of waterfront, and they pass by these five sculptures that I have highlighted. But how many people know about these art installations or the artists?
I have included information about them below, as well as sources of the information from my searches online.
Enjoy your walk about Kingston as you take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. And don’t forget to visit us at Martello Alley. We are located at 203 B Wellington Street, just north of Princess Street. Just look for the bicycles!
Tetra, Time and Pollution Sculptures:
That '70s Kingston art scene (The Whig-Standard, Jun 2, 2016)
When Kingstonians think back to the 1970s, two big events likely spring to mind: the city’s tercentenary [300th anniversary] in 1973, and the hosting of the summer Olympics’ sailing competition in 1976.
What also happened in Kingston at that time was the emergence of a new art scene in the city, as contemporary art was installed in public places, art programs were established at St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University, and an artist-run art gallery took root.
"What we’ve got today really got going in the 1970s," explained Alicia Boutilier, Canadian historical art curator at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
Boutilier, the curator of the current "Art Scenes Kingston: 1840s/1940s/1970s" exhibit at the Agnes, is also the organizer of Sunday’s "Kingston Arts Scene Summit," which features short talks discussing the evolution of art in the city from 40 or so years ago to today.
The 1970s were an "exciting" time for art in the city, she suggested, as the scene "exploded." Enough time has passed, she added, that a retrospective now makes sense.
"Now we’re at a certain distance where we can sort of take stock and look at it and realize all the different institutions and programs that came out of that period, some of which no longer exist, like the one at St. Lawrence College, but I think the legacy of that is there," Boutilier said.
Take, for example, the installation of Kosso Eloul’s "Time," which remains a fixture along the city’s waterfront at the foot of Albert Street. It was a tercentenary gift from the provincial government, but for many residents, it wasn’t a welcomed one.
"People saw it as an unnecessary blight on the landscape that blocked the view of the lake and what was it there," explained Colin Wiginton, Kingston’s director of cultural services and one of Sunday’s guest speakers.
Initially, "Time" was supposed to be one of three sculptures installed in what is now referred to as Breakwater Park, but the outcry was so great they were moved elsewhere, said Wiginton, whose family moved here in 1973.
Yvon Cozic’s "Pollution," another tercentennial gift, this time from the Quebec government, was moved along the shore and installed between Murney Tower and the university’s heating plant ["It stinks," art expert Dorothy Cameron said of the sculpture in 1974. "Close up it is even more repellent."]
The third, Ted Bieler’s aluminum "Tetra," was a gift from the federal government and was erected at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in 1976, the same year athletes from around the world competed for Olympic gold.
That was also the same year Terry Pfiger created his diorama "Tom Thomson and the Old Guard behind Time," which was his response to the public outcry over the waterfront sculpture. In it, "Time" sits in the middle as plastic soldiers produce and protect paintings of barns.
Pfiger, who taught visual arts at Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute before moving to St. Lawrence College, said that it represents in this case a "military exercise is compromised by old artists (old thought) in a city setting (public love of realism) with the centrepiece being the gifted-to-Kingston sculpture called ‘Time,’ " he wrote in an email [local artist Tina Barnes, one of his students, restored the rubber and acrylic piece for the exhibit and will speak on his behalf at Sunday’s event].
One of Pfiger’s colleagues at the college was Richard Buff, known to many as the "Rubber King" because of his work employed latex rubber, such as his fake cheque titled "The Bank of Canada," as he and his fellow teachers introduced new media to St. Lawrence art students.
"There was this coating of humour on all of this stuff as well as a coating of rubber," recalled Buff over the phone from his home in Colorado. "That’s a real icebreaker to get people to look at things like sculpture in a new way."
[His job interview with the college for the teaching position saw him walk into the hotel room carrying a canvas stuffed with rubber rocks. "And I just dumped them out onto the floor of the hotel room and they loved it," said Buff, who would live in Kingston for a couple dozen years.]
Dave Gordon also taught at St. Lawrence, moved to Kingston from London, Ont., in 1976. It was at that same time that artist-run centres were popping up in other Canadian cities.
"The chair of the fine art department at St. Lawrence, Tobey Anderson, was very active in starting the artist-run centre here in Kingston, which became Modern Fuel," recalled Gordon, who is one of its founders. "At the time it was called the Kingston Artists’ Association Inc. So I ended up in the middle of that, and it was exciting."
Public galleries didn’t always have the space to show everybody’s work, Gordon said, while private galleries preferred more established artists, leaving room for artist-run centres.
"In Kingston, anyway, it wasn’t a protest against the public gallery, it was more being part of a movement to establish (an artist-run) centre here," he added.
Wiginton said that some public art will again be installed in the city — Victoria Park once it’s redeveloped and at the Rideau Heights community centre — in accordance with Kingston’s Culture Plan.
"Public artwork always tends to be extremely controversial because it tends to involve signinficant change within familiar landscapes," he suggested, "and there will be people who enthusiastically embrace it and others who decry it."
Wiginton spent five years in Barrie, where the sculpture "Spirit Catcher" first met resistance when it was installed.
"It’s now the icon of the city, it’s how people recognize Barrie, and it’s fully embraced by the community, and I would say that’s the same with ‘Time,’ " he concluded. "If we were ever to remove ‘Time’ from the waterfront, there would be an outcry."
From a waymarking website:
Rod & flat steel image of 2 wrestlers located in Confederation Park in historic downtown Kingston. Unfortunately the plaque that accompanies the sculpture is now unreadable I recall it being called "Wrestlers or Wrestling"
Ted Bieler (“Tetra”)
Sculptor Ted Bieler has extensive exhibition credits throughout North America. His commissioned works include sculptures for Expo ’67 in Montreal and for public spaces throughout Ontario, notably Tetra in Kingston, and Canyons in the Wilson subway station and Triad on Front Street at University Avenue in Toronto. His monumental outdoor sculpture Wave Breaking can be seen on the grounds of the Canadian chancery building in Tokyo. His most recent commission, Tower Song, is installed at the Windsor Sculpture Garden. Prior to York, Professor Bieler taught at the Albright-Knox Art School of the University of Buffalo and in the Department of Art and Archaeology of the University of Toronto, where he initiated courses in both the history and the practice of sculpture. He has served on the boards of directors of the Toronto Sculpture Garden and the Power Plant gallery at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.
Kosso Eloul (“Time”)
Kosso Eloul was born in the city of Murom, Russia. In 1924 (aged 4) he immigrated with his family to Palestine. His artistic education began in the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv, and continued at the Reali School in Haifa with Yitzhak Sirkin as his teacher. He spent 1938 studying sculpture at Yitzhak Danziger's studio in Tel Aviv. In 1939, at age 19, he went to the United States in order to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he did until 1943. He continued his studies in New York and Philadelphia.
During World War II he volunteered for the United States Navy, in which he served for two years. Returning to Palestine in February 1946, he settled in Shfeya. During the Israeli War of Independence he lived in the kibbutz of Ein Harod and served as a medic in battles taking place near Mount Gilboa. In Ein Harod he worked for five years as an art teacher. Afterwards he moved to Ramat Gan and continued teaching there until 1955. Among his students were Pinhas Ashat, Matanya Abramson, and Raffi Lavie. He joined the New Horizons art group in 1948. In 1951 he won the Dizengoff Prize for Sculpture for his sculpture "Prisoner". Beginning in the 1950s he took an active roles in Symposia in Israel, and from 1960 in international symposia for sculptors, including in Berlin(1963) and Montreal(1964), while displaying his work in European cities such as Rome and Berlin. Towards the end of 1962 he organized an international sculpture symposium which took place in Mitzpe Ramon. This event indicated the growing interest of sculptors in the Israeli landscape, especially desert and barren landscapes.
In 1964 (according to another source – 1969) Eloul immigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he lived until his death in 1995. During his residence there he erected more than 40 sculptures around the city.
Kosso Eloul died from a heart attack in Toronto in November 1995, at age 75. He left behind two sons and a daughter.
Yvon Cozic (“Pollution”)
Yvon Cozic is a Postwar & Contemporary artist who was born in 1942. Their work was featured in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Mur, Montreal. Yvon Cozic has been featured in articles for the Canadian Art and the "Toronto Star". The most recent article is Governor General’s Award Winners Announced written for the Canadian Art in February 2019.
Walter Redinger (“Staking Shapes”)
One of six children of a tobacco farmer, Walter Redinger spent all but a few years of his life within miles of where he was born in 1940 in Wallacetown, in South Western Ontario. Walter spent a good deal of time exploring the rocky shores of Lake Erie, helping out on the tobacco farm and drawing with his friend and sculptor, Ed Zelenak.
At 17, he spent a year studying commercial art at Beal Technical College in London, Ontario. With no formal training in sculpture under his belt, he began to make sculpture in the family farm’s tobacco drying huts. He was taken up by the prestigious Isaacs Gallery in Toronto and would have his first one man show in 1963.
The late sixties and early seventies would see Walter rise to national and international prominence, culminating in his selection as one of two artists to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1972. His studio at the time would resemble a busy factory – to keep up with his prodigious production of the period, he often needed as many as six assistants.
An active sculptor for more than 40 years, Walter Redinger is best known for his large organic fibreglass sculptures and fearless drawing. His sculptural forms are primal, highly personal, unrestrained and visceral. His most recent major solo exhibition “Return to the Void” at MOCCA in Toronto & Museum London in London, included his monumental “The Ghost Ship”, a 42 foot long organic sculpture made of fibreglass and wood which took over 20 years to complete.
Redinger’s work is in countless public galleries including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario and Art Gallery of Hamilton.
For more samples of his work go to http://www.walterredinger.com/sculpture.html