Public Art Worth a Double Take
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Public Art Worth a Double Take

Shayne Dark's condo-front installations aim to bring nature to the urban landscape.

Shayne Dark's "Double Vision" and "Double Take"  Photo:  Ryan Van Der Hout

Shayne Dark’s “Double Vision” and “Double Take.” Photo by Ryan Van Der Hout.

BY: Shayne Dark
LOCATION: X2 Condominiums, 101 Charles Street East, between Jarvis and Charles
INSTALLATION: 2010, 2014

Public art helps turn unremarkable street corners into something beautiful, worth stopping for. Passing pedestrians, who would otherwise overlook the sight of a nondescript tower, are jolted into seeing the cityscape through different angles.

“Double Take” and “Double Vision,” opposite-facing installations that occupy two corners, demand passersby to take pause. The two pieces use brightly painted steel poles, standing tall on opposite ends of the intersection, to disrupt the mundane condo-front view most city goers are accustomed to. “I’m very fortunate there’s a dialogue between the two,” says artist Shayne Dark. “They reference one another.”

Dark’s public art pieces open up new perspectives; you can’t help but follow the gaze of the clustered steel poles every which way.

There’s an inimitable style to his work, with its eye-popping colours and unusual shapes of driftwood contorted to create abstract representations of nature. He developed his signature by chance when he settled by the lake near Sydenham, Ontario. Dark and his wife would spend days walking along the water, where he noticed the interesting shapes of driftwood.

“I’d slowly bring them back to the studio, and [by the end], I essentially had a big pile,” he says.

He then shaped them into beautiful monuments that evoke nature. In the case of “Double Take,” which is fashioned from steel but resembles his ironwood pieces, he references trees.

Dark is mindful of how his pieces relate to the built environment, and sets out to “bring nature into an urban setting.” The choice of shape and colour can provide a counterpoint to the surrounding architecture.

He loves creating public art because it engages people when they least expect it, captivating them even for a brief moment. “You may spend five seconds driving by or spend an hour and involve yourself, but it becomes a part of your everyday,” says Dark. “You don’t have to have an art education to understand public art.”