Maple Ridge public art answers question of Balance

Six panels of tempered, laminated glass are fixed into the branches of a tree-shaped aluminum sculpture.

Panels of coloured glass are installed as part of new public art project called Balance at 224th Street and Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge.

Panels of coloured glass are installed as part of new public art project called Balance at 224th Street and Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge.

The last glass panel had been fastened to the branches of the aluminum sculpture at the corner of Maple Ridge’s main street, and artists Claudia Cuesta and Bill Baker were pleased.

In addition to designing the art, Cuesta and Baker were hands-on Wednesday in putting it all together, then dismantling the scaffolding and cleaning up the spot outside Westminster Savings Credit Union on Lougheed Highway at 224th Street.

The street sculpture is called Balance and it’s the second piece of art under Maple Ridge’s new public art program.

The sculpture resembles maple trees, particularly those after which the district was named on McIver farm.

“It’s specific to Maple Ridge – in that Maple Ridge is very much in tune with its setting,” said Cuesta, a Vancouver artist.

And trees are the most balanced structures there are, she added.

Six panels of tempered, laminated glass are fixed into the branches of a tree-shaped aluminum sculpture.

“The whole idea is that it will change and dance to the seasons – and the weather. It will cast reflections over here (the entrance to the credit union). It will turn out beautiful.”

Cuesta and Baker have been creating public art for a dozen years and have several pieces throughout the Lower Mainland, with the next two slated for North Vancouver.

Before they start their work, they spend time in the community to get a feel of its nature and values.

The Maple Ridge piece is of grey, non-reflective aluminum with upward facing branches that end in a point. That’s partly to keep the birds away, and partly to reflect what the artists feel. “There’s a bit of pain in the community,” said Cuesta.

The sculpture’s also about progress and moving forward and more acceptance of the community, adds Baker.

He hopes the sculpture, which he notes is recyclable, will become an icon of Maple Ridge.

Cuesta said it’s more exciting when art is seen as a part of social development, “and have an emotional response to a place.

“We recognize beauty and therefore we get a sense of pride of the place that we live in.”

For Baker, “Art is always a mirror the people that look at it. It shows you who you are.”

The project cost $40,000, split equally between the Westminster Savings and the District of Maple Ridge.

Maple Ridge’s first art public art project is located outside the Leisure Centre and is called Tendance.

“Public art projects are a part of many great cities around the world, and it takes leadership and vision to bring this principle of urban design to the suburbs,” Mayor Ernie Daykin said in a release.