Jim Blake (left), curator of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and one of the leaders behind the Haliburton Downtown Sculpture Exhibition, meets with artist Eric Tardiff (right) to discuss his piece ‘Parallel Composition’. /MIKE BAKER staff

Much variety in 2021 class of Haliburton Downtown Sculpture Exhibition

By Mike Baker

Following a bit of an extended break the popular Haliburton Downtown Sculpture Exhibition returned to Highland St. last week.

A joint venture by the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and the Haliburton BIA, the exhibition showcases unique pieces of art in select places along the downtown core during the busy summer months. Launched in 2018, the initiative has been “extremely well received” by local residents and visitors alike in recent years, says Jim Blake, curator of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and one of the leaders behind the downtown sculpture exhibition project.

Having been forced to abandon last year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blake was pleased to hit the streets on Thursday, June 17 as he presented the 2021 lineup.

Six sculptures were selected to be a part of this year’s exhibition.

“It’s certainly exciting to be back again after a year off,” Blake said. “We were able to put out our call to artists earlier in the year, and that goes out to artists all across to province. In total, we received 29 entries. Then our jury, made up of members of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest board of directors and representatives from the BIA, whittled it down to our six finalists.”

Blake explained the kind of things jury members would look out for when making their final decision.

“We have a number of criteria that we make evident to artists. Their pieces need to be able to work as a sculpture on the main street, and we generally know which types of sculptures will work in different places, so we have that in mind,” Blake said. “We look for a variety of works, artists from different areas, but also looking at the aesthetics and considering things we think people will find interesting.”

This year’s selection of sculptures includes ‘Art of Noise’, a steel sculpture created by Mark Puigmarti that is stationed outside BMO and is valued at $3,500. Don Frost’s ‘Depth’ is made out of fibreglass carbon fibre and can be found on the corner of Highland St. and Maple Ave. in front of Rexall. That particular piece is also valued at $3,500.

‘Take Flight’, a glass and stainless steel piece created by Jennifer Kelly, is valued at $1,800 and is housed in front of Wind in the Willows on Highland St. Stationed outside of Glecoff’s Family Story is Eric Tardiff’s aluminum creation ‘Parallel Composition’, valued at $2,800. ‘Black Reflection’, carved out of hardwood and painted by Robert Wehkamp, is located beside Capturing Eden and valued at $3,800.

The final piece, ‘Athena’ by Brett Davis, is stationed at the corner of Highland St. and York St., overlooking Head Lake. The bronze statue is for sale, but has no listed value. Anyone interested in purchasing is encouraged to contact the artist at davis@ageofbronze.ca.

The Echo was on hand for the unveiling of Tardiff’s ‘Parallel Composition’. He said the piece took him around 15 hours to complete and captures his love for abstract art.

“I’m really inspired by abstract paintings and art, and a lot of my pieces are representative of that,” Tardiff said. “I’m very glad and pleased to be selected to be part of this year’s exhibition. I hope people take joy and maybe even inspiration from my piece.”

Blake noted such was the quality of this year’s submissions that the jury “could easily” have selected an additional six pieces to be featured.

With COVID-19 restrictions loosened earlier this month, Highland St. was busier than it has been in quite some time on the day of the unveiling. Many passers-by took a moment to admire the sculptures as they were being installed.
“The reaction is usually very positive. If you were just hanging around on the street [on Thursday], you could see the people stopping and asking questions, looking at the sculptures and curious about them,” Blake said. “This year’s selection seem to have been very well received.”

The Haliburton Downtown Sculpture Exhibition will run until Oct. 26.