Conversation Pieces: Telling Time
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Conversation Pieces: Telling Time

Toronto is home to a cornucopia of public art. Some of the pieces acknowledge an individual’s greatness or are inspired by their surroundings; others are installed when developers want to exceed the height or density for which their building is zoned—the public art is a trade-off for being allowed a site-specific change in the rules. In each installment of Conversation Pieces we’ll look at several artworks devoted to the same theme, and consider what makes public art succeed or fail.
Today: time pieces.


NAME: Sundial (1972)
ARTIST: Unknown
Sundials are technically out of date, but there are still several of them around the city. Located at Elm and McCaul, this one was installed to mark the opening of the Michener Institute. It’s an interesting comment on the perseverance of time, despite our changing ways of counting it.


NAME: Full Moon (1988)
ARTIST: Wendell Castle
Unlike the sundial with its ancient cachet, this piece is simply dated. It’s not just that it is an analogue clock in a digital world, but the style is so very typical of ’80s pop abstract art. But as with all things that look dated, it may seem really ugly for a while, then cool again, and then, if it’s lucky, timeless.

Photos by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.