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Popular art piece will crab-walk off Nanaimo’s waterfront

Maffeo Sutton Park sculpture, Deverill Square Park paintings coming down due to damage
Dan Richey’s Dungeness Crab, which has stood in Maffeo Sutton Park since 2013, is among the public art works the city is removing due to “material degradation.” (City of Nanaimo image)

The City of Nanaimo is getting rid of three long-standing outdoor public art installations with “significant” wear and tear.

At their March 22 governance and priorities committee meeting, city councillors voted to remove from the city’s public art collection Dan Richey’s Dungeness Crab sculpture, which has stood in Maffeo Sutton Park since 2013, as well as The Hummingbird Project, created in 2013 by artist Yvonne Vander Kooi and Bayview Elementary students and Vander Kooi’s 2007 work At Play, both of which are painted panel displays in Deverill Square Park.

“The reason for de-accession of each of these relates to their life cycle and the fact that over the years since they were first installed significant weathering has caused material degradation,” said city events and culture manager Julie Bevan, in her presentation to councillors.

Bevan added that the works were all designed to be temporary and the artists have been contacted regarding potentially reclaiming the materials.

A report to council notes that the crab was first installed as part of the city’s temporary public art program in 2013, but following its removal its popularity prompted the city to buy the piece.

“After seven further years of display its surface treatment has eroded significantly,” the report said. “It has also sustained significant damage to the front claw. Further degradation of the work’s appearance is expected.”

The Hummingbird Project and At Play both hang from the fences at Deverill Square Park. The report describes both installations as having “reached the end of their lifespan.”

“Certainly in all three instances these were thoughtful and skillful contributions to the public sphere by Nanaimo artists and works that have been well-loved in the places that they’ve occupied,” Bevan said. “We know that they’ll be missed.”

Following the presentation, Mayor Leonard Krog moved the motion “with a certain sense of sadness but a recognition of the reality that nothing lasts forever.” Coun. Zeni Maartman said she drives by the work every day and hopes to see new public art and Coun. Erin Hemmens reminisced about the installation of The Hummingbird Project.

“I have a picture of my three-year-old with a drill and Yvonne putting those up at Deverill Square and my older son was one of the artists,” she said. “The art in that park is really a part of that neighbourhood and I’m glad to see that we’re taking care of it and … that there is an appetite for further public art, particularly there.”

To view detailed photos of the art works being removed, click here.

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