Jill Cross and Kerri Souriol

Kerri Souriol and Jill Cross standing in front of the artwork Spirit of Water at the BMO Centre

Photo: Photo courtesy of Jill Cross

Jill Cross and Kerri Souriol

The new BMO Centre comes to life with art

The reimagined BMO Centre is officially open to the public, and art that reflects the land and people of southern Alberta is proudly at the forefront. In this podcast, we hear from two of the people who have been key to making art such a significant part of the new building. The works featured — both inside and out — were carefully chosen and curated, starting with a massive new addition at the main entrance.

The Spirit of Water, a steel sculpture standing 70 feet tall by 45 feet wide in the plaza in front of the BMO Centre, is a colourful, seemingly evolving artwork. More than 200 submissions were received from international artists competing to feature their work in the plaza. Kerri Souriol, an architect, design manager and project manager, is vice-president of park development and major projects for the Calgary Stampede, and the staff liaison for the Calgary Stampede Public Art Committe. She explains why UK artist Gerry Judah’s piece was selected to be placed in the heart of this gathering place.

“(Judah) really talked about… the ties between Calgary and water, and the importance of water, and that water really has a sort of universal appeal to people and that they would understand it. …a lot of people that have seen the piece have likened it to some of the glacial blue water that you would see up, say, by Lake Louise, and so I think that that really, really adds to the strikingness of that piece when you see it. It’s not just the size, it’s also the colour.”

Populating the inside of the BMO Centre was equally monumental. Arts programmer and curator Jill Cross worked directly with artists and their representatives.

“(There are) about 90 pieces of, of work scattered through the three floors. and we worked with 68 artists, and commissioned most of the pieces,” she says. “We created the mandate of working with local artists, who have a connection to southern Alberta… and we wanted the collection to also reflect this region as well. So everything you see in the building has some sort of reference to our local area, whether that’s through landscape, lifestyle… we’ve got some traditional horses and western features, but we’ve got some intermixed with some very contemporary pieces working with some incredible artists.”

Tune into this week’s Storytelling Podcast to hear more about the artists feature in and around the new BMO Centre, and how the Calgary Stampede Foundation plans to continue to promote art both locally and internationally.

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts. Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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