'You got to look at it and just laugh': Vancouver's $4.8M chandelier turns heads
VANCOUVER -- The underside of the Granville Street Bridge is the last place you’d expect to find multi-million dollar public art. But that’s where developer Westbank has installed a massive hanging chandelier designed by renowned Abbotsford artist Rodney Graham, at a cost of $4.8 million.
“Rodney is a very widely-known artist, his work is shown all over the world, and his work is highly sought after by collectors,” said Vancouver Art Gallery curator Grant Arnold.
The chandelier was unveiled Wednesday night in a ceremony attended by hundreds of curious onlookers. For the first time, the glittering art installation dropped and spun around, a show that’s set to happen twice day at noon at 9 p.m.
“There's something absurdly comic about this monstrous chandelier, which has a kind of over the top opulence to it, hanging from the bottom of a bridge,” said Arnold.
“I mean you got to look at it and just laugh a bit,” said former city councillor Gordon Price, who stopped to admire than chandelier while cycling past. “I loved this from the moment I saw the concept, it’s terrific.”
But Price has concerns it could be tempting for vandals. “You think there might be a temptation to make it a target? Yeah possibly. And then in a way, that becomes part of the art. A chandelier in a rich neighborhood that people throw stones at? It seems perfect for Vancouver!”
“When it’s not in motion its fairly high off the ground, you would have to be someone with a pretty strong arm,” said Arnold. “But I think it’s also been fabricated with that in mind.” The parts are made from a hard durable plastic, not glass. “Part of the difficulty in procuring it was how to make it fairly impervious to vandalism, and also that it will have a very long life.”
A flagger who’s watched the project get built has another concern.
“My first thought is it nice and beautiful but there's lots of pigeons lots of seagulls so like there's going be lots of bird poop on it probably,” said Cheyann Flescher.
Keeping it clean and operational will be a challenge. The chandelier was supposed to be spinning twice a day already, but people who came to watch the show on Thursday left disappointed. Westbank says it’s still being tweaked, and it’s now scheduled to start working by the end of next week.
That doesn’t surprise Gordon Price who approved many public art installations during his 16 years on city council. “All of the art that had moving pieces doesn’t work now,” said Price. “It needs constant maintenance.”
Price predicts if the kinks are worked out, the spinning chandelier will be a huge draw for locals and tourists alike.
“This is just pure over the top luxury,” he said. “If you don’t have a little room for art, then it says something about the society. And I like living in one that can do something like this.”