The City of Nelson’s sculpture era has officially begun. Over the weekend, Winlaw-based artist Carl Schlichting’s QR was placed in Nelson’s newly-dubbed Railtown district.
The sculpture is part of the City’s downtown sculpture project that will see a total of five sculptures that appeared at last year’s Castlegar Sculpturewalk be placed in the downtown core. Schlichting’s piece was purchased by the City for $10,000 and will a permanent fixture at the entrance of the old bridge that crosses Cottonwood Creek. The other four sculptures will be on loan to the city for one year.
The total cost of the project (including the purchased piece) is estimated at just under $20,000. The money is coming from a newly established downtown revitalization reserve that allocates a portion of parking meter revenue specifically to the downtown. Council is investing these funds in strategic improvements that will create additional vibrancy in the downtown.
“With the slow recovery in world economies our community is also experiencing challenging times” says Mayor John Dooley. “We believe it is critical to continue to invest in the community in order to give our local economy a leg up.”
The addition of the sculptures is being welcomed by the arts community.
“Public art plays an important role as it regenerates and enhances our public spaces, offers educational opportunities, promotes tourism and creates a sense of place,” .” says Stephanie Fischer, chair of the Cultural Development Committee. “I believe that the sculptures the Cultural Development Committee has recommended to be displayed throughout the city fit well with the industrial theme of Railtown and the people theme of Baker Street.”
The following is a profile on artist Carl Schlichting that was featured in the Castlegar Sculpturewalk program…
Growing up on the Western Canadian prairies, Carl Schlichting never really envisioned making his home in the mountainous terrain of the West Kootenay. The Winlaw-based artist believes in change and embracing new pursuits though, so he’s just fine with how things are.
“ I was always taken by my surroundings when I was growing up,” he says, reflecting. “The endless stretch of the land and the enormity of the prairie sky were influential, certainly. But so was having a bunch of talented siblings. They really inspired me to pursue my artistic side.”
Schlichting’s innovative sculpture on display here has little in common with vast panoramas. It does emphasize the inventiveness and dexterity he possesses in a variety of mediums.
“I learn easily the language of each material and I love many. Finding my own voice continues to be a journey of unknown horizons,” he says, smiling disarmingly. “Kind of like those prairie ones, the sky and land meet somewhere way off.”
Schlichting studied fine art at Vancouver City College (Langara) after leaving the prairies, then acquired additional understanding and comprehension through travel and study over 25 years in his career as a museum curator and gallery owner. That background has deepened his knowledge of materials and process while opening up new avenues in sculpting form and expressive exploration.
QR is eye-catching, clever and inventive. Taking a 12 foot length of discarded pipe, Schlichting has mounted it on a circular base to provide contrast. The top of the sculpture ruptures in an explosion of raggedly wild concentric forms similar to the cut-outs that provide depth perception along the vertical stem.
“I think there is nice balance and symmetry in this particular work, even if it might not be obvious at first glance,” he says. “It grows on you the more you study it.”
An accomplished, award-winning ice and snow sculptor, Schlichting continues to expand his repertoire of mediums. Comfortable in all, QR is a testament to his imagination and range. Using everyday materials and careful construction, he delivers an abstract work that captivates and enchants.