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A business Triumph for the Gateway 

Deep cold, heavy snow, sizzling sunshine – the young sculpture at the northwest entrance to the Prince George Gateway district has already felt it all and is standing proud and tall like a Triumph.

The sculpture wears the name Triumph because it emanates with the optimism and strength that exemplifies the Gateway Business Improvement Area where it dances in a frozen pose of cheerful happiness. It is the latest installation of public art within the Gateway BIA, the third major one, and that is a Triumph in itself.

We created public art to slow the people down,” said John Enemark, the longtime president of the organization, as to the original idea for investing in creative icons in amongst the commercial spaces in that neighbourhood. “The whole focus has been the beautification of the Gateway. And it has worked.”

Another example is the splendid mural on the west-facing wall of the Connaught Youth Centre.

There is also the sculpture entitled Commotion (see below) erected in 2010 at the intersection of 20th Avenue and Victoria Street dancing steel figures spanning five metres tall and 10 metres wide. Commotion’s impression, designed by Roman Muntener, has been built right into the Gateway BIA’s logo, and served as inspiration for Triumph, when it was conceived by artist Vince Scott of Concept Design. “From the minute Vince put that image on the screen, we all just thought ‘yes!’,” said Enemark. “We like them because they can appeal to anybody and everybody. They have no gender, they have no race, they aren’t dressed up or dressed down, they are just joyous figures.”

It’s a symbol of hope and unity,” said Scott. “It’s about people – all people – human triumph over adversity and celebrating together. It’s symbolic of working together and supporting each other. It’s about finding our similarities and connections and the strength achieved from being united.”

The figures are cut from the same 1-inch steel as Commotion, only these appear to be held aloft in a gymnastic circle, one set of people atop another. The height reaches to 5.5 metres high and is an equal 5.5 metres wide. “It makes great use of a smaller park space,” said Enemark. Triumph, within sight of Commotion, is the new installation at the intersection of Highway 16 and 20th Avenue. “It’s space that isn’t really useful, but this makes a big statement and puts a smile on your face every time you drive by.”

Scott said the whole idea was to use this otherwise empty location as a focal point. “We wanted the sculpture to be interesting from all angles. Because of its location, it will be viewed from all sides,” he said. “We also wanted to create a form that didn’t appear overly heavy, even though the steel is very heavy. The angled lines help it have a sense of movement and its symmetry gives it visual balance. There is a lot of interesting negative space created within the form and the lighting system works to further enhance that. The interlocking legs of the design create a six-sided star pattern at the centre and the overall sculpture has snowflake qualities that with make it equally enduring during the winter months.” The steel has been treated so it will deliberately oxidize to an organic rust patina. It is built for the weather and resistant to vandalism.

Prince George Fabrication and Installation Services were used to turn the concept into tangible reality.

Focusing on local business is what the Gateway BIA has been doing since its inception in 1995, predating all other Business Improvement Area organizations in the city and most of the province.

People do make the assumption that the City does a lot of the work people see in the Gateway, and we really thank the City for the partnership we’ve had over the years, but this area looks the way it does because of the businesses in that neighbourhood. The City has helped us, but it was our vision, and our funding to make it all happen,” said Enemark, who met with fellow Gateway business leaders Ken Leboe and Tom Griffiths when the idea first germinated, before Gateway was even the word for the area.

Now, from seniors’ housing complexes to churches, the Gateway name has stuck with precision and affection.

Seventeen businesses comprised the original group, agreeing to contribute together into a $100,000-per-year fund to enhance and enliven their commercial neighbourhood. Those funds paid for decorative lampposts, banners and flower baskets, benches, gardens, brick sidewalks, entrance signs, contracted the Brain Injured Group to do regular litter cleanup in the non-snow months, and of course the invaluable public art.

The fact that the organization is now passing into the hands of a second generation of entrepreneurs and still installing definitive beautification art is yet another Triumph.

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