Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

These marbles aren't for rolling

Spheres scattered on Portage Avenue

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PORTAGE Avenue has found its marbles.

Artist Erica Swendrowski unveiled her new public art installation, Marbles on Portage, on Tuesday.

The installation consists of 20 marbles measuring about one metre by 1.5 metres.

They look like glass marbles, but the sculptures are made of fibreglass coated with automotive paint.

The project was a collaboration between the Winnipeg Arts Council and a group of merchants that sponsors efforts to promote the downtown as a residential, shopping and entertainment hub.

Swendrowski said she wanted to create something that would bring a smile to everyone's face. She said most people have played with marbles at some point in their life, and the brightly coloured spheres will add more life to one of Winnipeg's most-travelled streets.

Some mammoth marbles are scattered in Air Canada Window Park, a concrete park on Portage Avenue between Carlton and Hargrave streets. Others line the Portage Avenue median and range in colour from bright aqua to black and orange.

"I really wanted to make it fun for young and old alike," Swendrowski said.

The marbles will remain on Portage for three to five years. Some light up at night and others contain flowers.

Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande said the installation helps showcase the city's artistic talent and brings colour and world-class art to the downtown. He said the marbles are eye-catching and have already attracted the attention of passersby, who are stopping to take a photo with the marbles.

"It's a conversation piece," Grande said. "It's all positive."

Last year, Swendrowski created couches out of sod for six community gardens. She previously sculpted giant jelly beans that were displayed on Portage in 2006 and massive candy hearts near the Fairmont Hotel in 2008.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2012 B2

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