Before showing off the top floor of the tallest building in Kelowna, a 27-foot public art display outside of the One Water Street towers was also unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 22).
The cast aluminum sculpture named “Ursa” — which stands 30 feet above the ground — was created by Toronto-based artist Pierre Poussin. The abstract, ribbon-like sculpture is a bold outline of a grizzly bear, which Poussin said is a homage to Kelowna’s name, kiʔláwnaʔ, an Okanagan word that translates to male grizzly bear.
“The grizzly bear plays a significant role in the creation stories of the Syilx and Okanagan people, symbolizing strength, power and courage,” said Poussin. “In my conceptualization of Ursa, I wanted to create a sculpture that honours, celebrates and symbolizes the majestic beauty and significance of the grizzly bear.”
The $300,000 sculpture consists of five sections, and Possin said it took about five days to create its design. He went back and forth with fabricator Michael Bilyk of Lafontaine Iron Werks for a month to tweak the outline. It took about six months for the sculpture to come to life, with the finishing touches coming earlier this month.
Ursa’s curves, he added, parallel the curves of Lake Okanagan.
“What is your experience when you look at this? Do you see the bear? Did it take you a while to see the bear? Because that was the goal, to take you a little bit of time to see the bear,” he said.
Mayor Colin Basran said that public art is a vital part of building a vibrant community.
“Arts and culture is so important — maybe more important than it’s ever been, in light of coming out of this pandemic. Recognizing that we need to be kinder, more understanding of each other and our backgrounds, and really just supporting one another,” said Basran.
“A great way to do that is through arts and culture.”
He commented on the site of the One Water Street east and west towers, saying that the former — which was completed this past summer — has lived up to its expectations.
“I really think that what (North American Development Group) created here is something special. I want to thank you for your investment in our community,” he said. “I think that that investment is again another example of the great things that are happening in our community.”
All but one of the units in the tower have been sold, with the remaining unit being a penthouse worth $12 million located on the building’s 36th floor.
Henry Bereznicki, the managing partner of North American Development Group, said that event was a proud day for the development team, highlighting that over 500 people call One Water Street home.
“One Water Street is located at the north end of the arts district. We thought the best way to honour the city of Kelowna and its residents was to commission and present this piece of public art to the residents of Kelowna,” said Bereznicki.