A new piece of public art invites passersby to stop and play awhile on the Northeast Pioneers Greenway.
On July 20, Storefront Manitoba and the Winnipeg Trails Association unveiled Seesaw, the latest in the series of BENCHmark trails-based placemaking and design competition winners.
"The involvement of the community was great, which is exactly why we do this," said Suzy Melo, co-curator of the project with Storefront Manitoba. "It was so powerful seeing people coming from all directions to see it."
Located to the west of the Sun Valley Plaza (1511 Gateway Rd.), the piece, designed by Sylvia Choi and Daegeon Jeong of Brooklyn, N.Y., is much like a large teeter totter. According to the artists’ statement, "This small intervention creates a co-occurrence of events between people sitting on the bench and its surrounding movements. The gently sloped bench with a vertical movement recalls visitors’ common childhood experience of playing on a seesaw and sensing gravity."
"You look at it and think it’s a teeter totter, and that’s the jist of it," said Anders Swanson, coordinator for the Winnipeg Trails Association. "It can fit more than two people, and it’s intended not just for kids."
The piece brings something fun to see and something interactive for everyone in the area.
"The designers envisioned all these families climbing, and so far its been a huge success," added Melo, who is a landscape architect by trade.
BENCHmark 2019 was sponsored by City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects (MALA), Trails Manitoba, The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail) and Fukumoto Fitness.
Johnny Fukumoto, owner of Fukumoto Fitness (50 Burnett Ave.), attended the July 20 unveiling with his family.
"The piece brings something fun to see and something interactive for everyone in the area," Fukumoto said. "This gives people a destination."
Now in its third year, five pieces of public art have been commissioned as a result of BENCHmark competitions, with a fifth scheduled to go up in Sir John Franklin Park later this summer. Last year, Thomas Nuytten’s Gridlock was installed along the Pandora Pathway in Transcona.
"Something I feel strongly about is the trail systems in Winnipeg and Manitoba, and cycling itself," Melo said. "It’s getting there, but the places to rest are just places to rest. This is about bringing something else to the trails, both for people who use them all the time and people who don’t use them at all. One day, it could be like a treasure hunt to find them all."
"It’s pretty exciting to involve the international design community, and I know the local design community thrives off that spotlight," Swanson said, adding that this year’s competition had over 100 submissions. "I think we’ve been successful, in that we’ve added something interesting or joyful or playful to each site."
Visit www.benchmarkmb.ca for more information.
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112
Updated on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 8:51 AM CDT: Thomas Nuytten's last name was spelled incorrectly. We regret the error.