Today's Hideous Public Art comes from Pointe au Pere, Quebec - a little village on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near the town of Rimouski. Pointe au Pere is noteworthy for being the nearest town to the site of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, the Canadian Pacific ocean liner that went down on May 28 1914 after a collision with another ship. The sinking claimed 1012 lives, making it the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history. There is a small museum near the river dedicated to the disaster.
Pointe au Pere is also noteworthy for two examples of Hideous Public Art. The first is displayed outside the Empress of Ireland museum. It is a huge bronze depicting a nude woman wearing scuba flippers apparently about to kiss a fish.
There is no accompanying description to explain the artist's vision to the perplexed public, which is probably a good thing. Maybe it depicts a St. Lawrence water nymph communing with nature. Maybe it's a symbol of the community's dependence on the munificence of the mighty river. However, given its prominent location outside a museum dedicated to an event that resulted in the drowning deaths of 279 women, the effect is rather macabre. One can't help the uncomfortable feeling that the sculpture depicts a female Empress of Ireland passenger being sent to the bottom of the river to "sleep with the fishes". Either way, it is a uniquely inappropriate work of art to be displayed outside a museum dedicated to such a tragedy.
The second sculpture is displayed in a little parkette near the main highway to Rimouski and is entitled "The Millenial Tree: Vision of the Past, the Present and the Future". The sculptor is one Andre Gamache.
A helpful plaque explains the symbolism of the work: in my imperfect English translation it says "As one approaches, one discovers the tree. The trunk is composed of the hands of a man and a woman between whom flows life. The branches join the foliage, composed of the continents and covered by doves in a hope of world peace". Near the bottom, the sculptor declares "In this beginning of the millenium, we have a choice to make as a society. Me, I choose the life of man and the survival of the planet. And you?"
Well, for me I choose to expose hideous pretentious artistic ego-trips to public ridicule. M. Gamache has inflicted a grade-A eyesore on the public which is amateurish in technique and uses over-wrought cliches to make a juvenile political statement. One hopes that as the millenium progresses and the planet survives quite nicely that branches & foliage will grow up to obscure this monstrosity.