From a giant nose, a salmon made out of horseshoes to commentary on women’s oppression, the 2022-23 public sculpture exhibit has grabbed some well-deserved attention over the past year. If you haven’t seen them along Lakeshore Drive or up near City Hall, you only have a couple more days to do so.
Before the sculptures are removed to make way for a new set of public art, the People’s Choice Awards have been announced and Pearl the Pandemic Salmon by Kaleden artist Jean E Ouellon won first place. The horseshoe sculpture can only be seen until April 25 along the Lakeshore Drive promenade.
Pearl The Pandemic Salmon took Ouellon five months to make and holds hundreds of horseshoes.
The 10 foot (three metre) salmon sculpture has delighted thousands while standing over Okanagan Lake.
“It was a good personal challenge and it feels good to win people’s choice,” said Ouellon who made the sculpture out of his garage during the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The tail alone has 94 horseshoes, he said. He bends and welds the horseshoes into shape.
He made the salmon sculpture after having a stroke in 2020.
“It was the start of the pandemic and I didn’t want to go too far so that’s why I named it Pearl The Pandemic Salmon,” he said. The 80-year-old artist has his sculptures all over the world and some can be seen right here in Penticton. The bear and two cubs sculpture in the Penticton hospital is his. His public art of a pig in the middle at Doug’s Homestead is also his.
The salmon is coming back home to him but may be displayed in another public art exhibit in Castlegar.
And the senior has another horseshoe sculpture that will be part of the 2023-24 exhibit in Penticton.
It’s a giant 12 foot wine bottle which will go beside City Hall where the big nose is now.
The art installation is called ‘1,760.’
“That’s the amount of litres of wine the wine bottle would hold,” he said.
The salmon will be removed April 25 in order to make room for the next set of sculptures which will start to be installed May 19.
Following a poll by exhibition program organizers, the following sculptures were selected as the People’s Choice Winners:
First Place: Jean E Ouellon (Kaleden, BC) – Pearl the Pandemic Salmon
Second Place: Ron Simmer (Vancouver, BC) – What Does the Nose Know?
Third Place: Laurel Dinney (Victoria, BC) - Murphy
Anyone interested in purchasing a sculpture from this year’s display can inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org. A virtual walking app as well as bios and additional background on the artists are available at penticton.ca/publicart.
New sculptures will be installed beginning May 19 and an opening ceremony will be announced at a later date.