Earlier this month, seven billboards along Arbutus Greenway had to be covered up after people complained that they were “frightening” and “evoked the ongoing opioid crisis.”
The billboards, part of the 2021 Capture Photography Festival, featured artwork by Vancouver-based artist Steven Shearer that showed people sleeping.
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The pieces were supposed to be on display until May 21, but were taken down just two days after being installed.
This isn’t the first time Vancouver’s public art scene has turned heads. The city has had its fair share of unusual installations, from upside-down buildings to gum-covered faces.
Below, check out five of Vancouver’s most eye-catching pieces of public art.
Device to Root Out Evil
Dennis Oppenheim’s sculpture of an upside-down, New England-style church sat in Coal Harbour Park from 2006 to 2008.
Part of the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, the piece was built with the church’s steeple pointed into the ground.
Like Shearer’s billboards, the Device to Root Out Evil was met with criticism and eventually removed from the park. It has since found a new home in Calgary.
In 2009, artist Michael Zheng installed a series of stop signs with their backs painted pink in Charleson Park and Vanier Park.
The installation “subverts the power of the original sign and gives it possibilities of fresh experiences with new meaning,” Zheng writes of the piece.
Also part of Vancouver’s Sculpture Biennale, The Stop is now displayed at 3rd Avenue and Alberta Street.
Artist Gisele Amantea’s sculpture of a porcelain poodle has been looking over Main Street and 18th Avenue for nearly a decade.
The little white dog was put in place as part of a 2012 installation called “Memento” that also featured several temporary pieces in and on trolley buses.