West Pender light installation triggers struggle over latest public art project

Tamara Frank installation at West Pender Place

When Dutch artist Tamar Frank turned on her major new light installation at 1409 West Pender in July, early reviews were so positive she declared herself astounded and “almost bashful at the way people are complimenting me on the work.”

Frank is an internationally-recognized artist whose work has been installed in many countries.

But that public acclaim was not forthcoming from some neighbours of four or five condo towers south of the new building just opened by Reliance Properties, which paid $400,000 for the light work as part of the public art program.

By early August, nearby residents were bombarding councillors with angry e-mails, insisting that the illuminated display, that lasted all night, was keeping them awake. In many cases, nearby residents lacked blinds and had the LED display flashing into living rooms and bedrooms.

(I met with some of the affected residents in August and went down at night to see the display for myself. From the street, the lights seem muted, but passersby have a hard time comparing that experience to that of neighbours, who see the building at close quarters from higher floors.)

So far, Frank’s work remains up for all to see, albeit on reduced hours. Take a look.