Look up, look way up at the new additions on Bernard Avenue’s light poles and you’ll find Crystal Przybille’s latest edition to the public art collection.
The young artist has already made her mark in Kelowna with a well-researched, painstakingly crafted bronze likeness of founding pioneer Father Charles Pandosy and the intricate tree grates, known as Element, one can find on Cawston Avenue and Abbott Street.
In so doing, she has shown a deep appreciation for the area and the need for artistic expression in public spaces to give root to a sense of place.
“I felt very much ensconced in his history and thought it would be really interesting to have a sculpture of this figure. A lot of cities have sculptures of historical figures, represented for tourists and so that the general public can get a sense of the identity of the community,” she told the Capital News in July of 2011 as she worked on the sculpture.
Przybille said she realized the Okanagan needed to pay homage to Pandosy 14 years ago when she was living in a small cabin across from the mission he established; she would eventually time the sculpture to mark the 150th anniversary of the its settlement, which passed in 2010, seeing the work finally installed on the site last year.
The priest established European culture in existing First Nations territory—not to mention planted the area’s first orchard and contemplated growing the first wine grapes for communion, as was the custom in his native France—and Przybille said his story grabbed her from the outset.
This latest project consists of 48 metal fabricated plates she designed to be added to the light posts on the newly upgraded Bernard Avenue main drag, between Abbott and Pandosy streets, and is reminiscent of Element.
“A notable feature is that the stainless steel plates are back-lit so that the art illuminates at night,” said Pat McCormick, City of Kelowna public art coordinator, adding that the artwork is really the crowning touch on the street.
The plates, mounted on 23 light posts, reflect the three place-making themes the city worked into the Bernard Avenue designs: the aquatic environment; the hillsides and grasslands; and the cultural history of the community.
Submissions from six local artists were evaluated by members of the City’s Public Art Roster and Przybille, a well-accomplished artist with several public art projects to her name in other cities as well, was selected to do the work.