Conversation Pieces: Sports Fans
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Conversation Pieces: Sports Fans

Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.

Toronto is home to a cornucopia of public art. Some of the pieces acknowledge an individual’s greatness; others are installed when developers want to exceed standard density or circumvent other zoning regulations—the public art is a trade-off for being allowed a variance from the rules.
Often, we don’t pay this art nearly enough attention. Some pieces are out of the way, situated way up high or way down low, and some are so subdued—or so familiar—that they blend into the cityscape. In each installment of
Conversation Pieces we’ll look at several artworks devoted to the same theme, and talk about what makes public art succeed or fail.


NAME: Our Game
ARTIST: Edie Parker (Oakville, Ontario)
BACKGROUND: Commissioned by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993, Parker said she was inspired by an early 1970’s magazine advertisement.

Toronto is a sports city. We may not win championships anymore but that doesn’t stop us from rooting. The Hockey Hall of Fame commissioned these hockey players because they’re a fun way to embody their elaborate mandate “to recognize and honour the achievements of individuals and teams who have brought special distinction…” yadda yadda yadda. What we really love: these kids remind us of the fun and action of the game. Although they’re watching what’s happening on the ice, they are also players themselves, fit contributors to the team, already jumping over the boards for their shift. They seem to call on us to be not only spectators of life but participants as well. Participaction!


NAME: The Audience
ARTIST: Michael Snow (Oakville, Ontario)
BACKGROUND: Commissioned by the Stadium Corporation of Ontario, completed in 1989.

Over at the SkyDome Rogers Centre, instead of showing us the players, the artist show us the fans. Michel Snow likes playing with the relationship between audience and art, and so The Audience has its own audience. It’s an interesting reminder that at the baseball park, where the action is slow and drawn out like a chess game, the most amusing part of the game can be watching the drunk fans chanting, booing, cheering, and trying to get the wave started. You have to appreciate that kind of honesty. It’s as if they knew that at some point they’d have to use one dollar tickets to lure people to the stands—America’s favourite pastime is past its time. Sure, it was here that the Jays played their world series games, but the SkyDome’s biggest crowd was for Wrestlemania X8. A celebration of baseball would seem dated and out of place now. Good call Mr. Snow.

Top photo by zuflickr from the Torontoist Flickr Pool. Bottom photo by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.