A lively built environment is important for human well-being. In cities around the world, people are evading the dismal outcomes of cookie cutter housing and sprawling development in favour of more dynamic cityscapes.
Lucky for us, Squamish is one of the places that grasps the importance of creating a lively built environment, including public art. Our Mayor, Patricia Heintzman believes in the arts and is instilling a healthy dose of this into town. Squamish is on the doorstep of change and so the timing is serendipitous, that she is planting creating these changes.
Arts as a Way of Life
From a young age, Patricia Heintzman (Patty) engaged with various artistic pursuits. Her whole family appreciated theatre, music, and visual arts. Her father, when he wasn’t working as an engineer, enjoyed painting and wood working. So Patty was introduced to this sort of creative expression early on.
“I was the kid who was getting the art awards in high school; I painted and carved and I was the one that was building and designing all the sets for the plays and that kind of stuff,” she says.
As a young adult, Patty went on to study photojournalism in school. She landed in Squamish in 1993, where she worked as a reporter for a few years before jumping on board with a new magazine, 99 North. She has since moved on to bigger and better things, like the mayor’s office—but she continues to bring her artistic inclination to her life personally and professionally.
Now two years into her term as the mayor. Patty sees both aesthetic and economic value for a vibrant arts culture, and continues taking steady strides to enliven this aspect of Squamish.
Arts Culture at the District of Squamish
Since 2005 when she took office, she has advocated for a robust arts culture.
During her first term as a council person, Patty sat on the advisory design panel, the body which vets development applications for form and function.
“Through that process we’re making the built environment more contemporary, more pleasing to the eye, more functional and more people oriented,” says Patty.
“It’s really important so we don’t have things like portable buildings outside in the parking lot,” she says, gesturing to her office window.
Patty pushed for the creation of the Public Art Policy, which happened in 2015. “I certainly led the charge from a council point of view.”
The Public Art Policy is now allocated one per cent of the district’s budget. The funds go towards projects like street banners, the rainbow crosswalks at Cleveland and Victoria, and the new salmon-themed statues that are going into three different locations in the District at the end of October.
It’s the little things that make you realize, ‘oh yeah that makes a difference with how we I interact with the built environment
Squamish grew up in an age when aesthetic consideration for public space wasn’t necessarily a big part of the thinking.
“It was very functional; it was a pioneer town,” she says.
“As we get denser and the built environment becomes more important to daily life, you have to start making sure your architecture is interesting.
You want to infuse in some public art, some things that provoke people to think or smile or whatever it may be.”
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Join us and @kondimopoulos for a #bluetrees pigmenting party in #Squamish today. At Victoria St at Loggers Lane between 9:00 am & 4:00 pm. Don't miss your chance to be part of this award winning environmental art project. Photo by roaming-the-planet of #bluetrees in #newwest last week.
Public Art for the Community
“It’s always a bit of a tough sell. People always ask, ‘why are you spending on public art? We should be spending on the homeless shelter. We should be spending on the Economic Development Office,’ ” explains Patty.
Patty acknowledges that the situation seems contradictory, but reaffirms that art and well-being are inextricably linked.
“The artistic side of your community can really help in a positive way the economic side of your community, which helps in a positive way the social fabric of your community. It’s not like you can dismiss one for the other.”
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#throwbackthursday to the summer of 2014 when Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his team created UNTITLED (WOLF) in #squamish, #britishcolumbia, #canada. A big #thankyou to Vik and his team and a huge shoutout to the community at large and the scores of #volunteers who assisted with this grand-scale land #mosaic. We thrive on public engagement! Do you have any photographic #memories of this #art project? Perhaps you have #pics from a past #vanbiennale exhibition? We'd love to see your #photos and for you to become part of a movement where "art is the stuff of #transformation." (V. Muniz) http://www.vancouverbiennale.com/support/donate/ #tbt #throwback #thursday #artwork #publicart #bc #vikmuniz #wolf #openair #openairmuseum #outdoors #artist #landscape
Patty keeps on keeping on for art in Squamish. And in her personal life too, she’s always got projects on the go. Recently, she gutted her Airstream trailer in preparation to completely redesign and rebuild the interior from scratch.
She points to the crafted wooden box on her desk. “My first dove-tail experiment,” she says.
“I sometimes think I should have been an artist–I definitely bring that sensibility and appreciation to other things that I do.”