Calgarians, and city council, should no longer be on the receiving end of a public art surprise.

The city is putting images of new works of public art on its website after council voted in September to suspend any new requests for public art while the policy is reviewed.

The move came after controversy erupted once again last summer with the unveiling of Bowfort Towers, a public art installation at the new 16th Avenue-Bowfort Road interchange.

Despite the freeze on any new pieces, public art projects already commissioned will still go ahead, including a couple of 2018 projects.

A bronze sculpture will be installed next to the new zoo bridge in Inglewood next year. 

12 Street Bridge Calgary public art

A piece of public art proposed for the new zoo bridge in Inglewood. (City of Calgary)

That project is worth $220,000 and is being designed by Brandon Vickerd, an artist based in Hamilton, Ont.

The budget for an installation that will be going into the new Seton recreation centre is $750,000. New York City artist Donald Lipski is behind that project.

Councillor supports move

Coun. Shane Keating, who supported the freeze of the art program while it's reviewed, said he's glad Calgarians can now see what new public art is coming.

"Because of the controversy, I would say they're putting it out to the public so that they're getting feedback long before the construction of the piece has started," said Keating.

He's hoping that in refining its public art policy, the city will reverse its process.

Rather than selecting an artist, Keating would rather see a panel select the art and then conduct public engagement.

"The piece is far more important than which artist is doing it," said Keating.

"So we have to — and when I say 'we', I'm talking the public in general — we have to have the ability to look at the piece and give feedback before they give the contract out."

The review of the public art policy is expected by be done by the middle of 2018.

Bowfort Towers not the first surprise

Bowfort Towers is the latest public art installation to cause controversy, but it's not the only one.

In October 2013, Travelling Light — perhaps better known as the Giant Blue Ring — irked many Calgarians including Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

It cost $470,000 and like Bowfort Towers, no one knew what was coming until the installation was complete.

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