Let's get back to the "Heart of the City". That could be the theme of the extensive work and planning that has been undertaken downtown in recent years. Lethbridge has taken some imaginative steps to bring back life to the downtown core of the city. Several projects have opened opportunities, allowing for more people to gather, relax, reside and celebrate in the downtown. Public art plays a prominent role in this revitalization.
While often depicted as “The Windy City” and admittedly, we do get our fair share of winds, we really are not the windiest city in the country. Lethbridge remains, none-the-less linked to "wind". So, let’s just run with that. There are a number of public art pieces that depict the theme of those winds.
In the Heart of the City, you will find Galt Gardens, with floral displays, open-air stage and a wondrous water display. It is also home to the city's main public art gallery; the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG). Immediately east of SAAG is a collection of playful sculptural pieces that turn and spin and respond to those winds that blow through our city.
Directly south of Galt Gardens is Festival Square, home to the Lethbridge Business Revitalization office, located across from the historic CP Telegraph building. Towering above, braving those winds, you’ll spot “Wranglin’ Willy and the Windeater”, a truly unique metallic windsock.
Strolling through the Downtown, you will discover several painted wall murals; some by local artists as well as nationally recognized artists. Local Aboriginal leaders, depicted in distinctive wire-mesh canvas, comprise a prominent part of the collection of public art. Subjects also include the prairie buffalo and the heritage of our early local coal mining industry.
Over by the new city hall there are over 20 pieces of public art, mostly sculptural representations of the history, the land and the people who have come and contributed to the growth of this prairie city. Several public art pieces honour the contributions of other ethnic cultures, as we recognize the strength this cultural diversity brings to our city.
Throughout the downtown there are also 3 additional public galleries. The Joan Waterfield Gallery is located in the Yates Theatre directly east of our City Hall. CASA opened in the Summer of 2013 as new home of the Arts community. It has taken over and greatly expanded on the role previously served by The Bowman Art Centre. Across from the Bowman is the Lethbridge Public Library Gallery, featuring more local contemporary themes in the artwork there.
In addition to these, you may also enjoy the several private galleries located throughout the downtown; the Miller, the Trianon, Jerry Arnold’s, the Trap-door and the Stillwaters Gallery; each offer a diversity of pieces by local and regional artists who have earned quite a reputation for distinctive works.
Across the river, the University of Lethbridge is home to one of the most extensive art collections in Canada. Numerous pieces adorn the grounds and parkway as well as the residences and buildings throughout the campus.
Thanks to the foresight and dedication of many community and business leaders, Lethbridge has developed a significant collection of public art that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors from around the world. City Council has committed to include public art installations within the budgets for all new city buildings. Private business and associations also continue to add to the gallery of art in our community.