Local artist donates art installation to new fire station
A three-panel abstract art installation will look down on firefighters at the new Chinook Winds Fire Station after a public art unveiling, July 13.
The installation was created and donated to the firehall by Airdrie artist Koos De Jongh. De Jongh and his wife moved to Canada four years ago from Holland because of their interest in Canadian culture. They lived in Calgary for two years before moving to Airdrie two years ago.
“I’m really proud to get public art in Airdrie,” De Jongh said. “I can promise there will be more in the future.”
De Jongh has been an artist for eight years and has worked professionally in the field for four years. Self taught, he prefers to paint acrylic abstract pieces with natural elements.
When he moved to Alberta, he and five artists, whom he met at the Alberta College of Art and Design, formed the group ab-straKt 373 to promote abstract work.
“Every piece I make, it comes from in here,” De Jongh said, pointing to his heart.
De Jongh completed the installation in about six months and was inspired by a theme of collaboration from the Works Art and Design Festival in Edmonton he attended earlier this year.
His installation at the firehall is organized into three distinct panels simply linked together by dots on the walls.
The centre panel is the largest, with 16 individual paintings placed together to represent a theme of collaboration. The two smaller panels have three paintings each.
According to De Jongh, each element of the installation, from colours to lines, was carefully selected for its meaning.
“It’s a whole installation telling a story,” De Jongh said.
“I really think it out.”
A portion of the wall on which the centre piece is positioned is painted blue to represent the initial balance of the world. The centre panel’s 16 pieces are mostly orange, De Jongh’s favourite colour, and represents the energy of humankind.
The two smaller pieces, which are positioned on adjacent walls, are mostly yellow to represent hope. Red lines throughout the entire installation symbolize the paths of people working independently to improve their own lives. The lines are abruptly cut off, signifying how people can only go so far without working together.
“The red lines (represent) people who do amazing things but stop,” De Jongh said.
The red to white transitional lines in the piece symbolize collaboration needed to overcome obstacles and create harmony. Textured white lines, which appear on each individual piece within the installation, represent successful collaboration.
Members of Chinook Winds Fire Station were pleased with the unveiling of the installation in their foyer.
“(Collaboration) really speaks to how we are,” said Ken Hubbard, Deputy Chief of the Airdrie Fire Department.
The Chinook Winds installation is part of an ongoing effort by both Creative Airdrie and the City of Airdrie to display local art publicly.
Paul Schulz, Airdrie’s city manager, said he has seen arts become more of a priority in Airdrie
“We are thrilled to see a lot of momentum in the arts in our community,” he said. “It’s exciting to see arts and culture mesh with safety.”
Linda Bruce, executive director of Creative Airdrie, said it’s important for communities to provide a place for residents to both enjoy and share local art.
“We're always encouraging business and services to become non-traditional art spaces,” Bruce said, adding Airdrie Public Library and Good Earth Café also showcase local art.
“A place would be pretty boring if it didn't provide those opportunities. Imagine a community without it,” Bruce said. She said De Jongh is passionate about his work and has positively contributed to Airdrie’s movement towards more public art.
“He was prepared to put his art on the line and donate it to the city,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing for him to do. This was a huge piece.