Amanda DykeCulture Officer - Development
An exciting public art project that honors the legacy of Robert “Bob” Hunter, a prominent Barrie resident, who passed away in 1991, but not before envisioning a performing arts space much like the one we now have at
Robert (Bob) Hunter was born 1929 in Barrie and played a significant role in the community. Mr. Hunter was an active member of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce (serving as president in 1968) and the Barrie Rotary Club. He attended Barrie Central Collegiate where he played trumpet with the concert band led by W.A. Fisher.
Mr. Hunter developed a lifelong passion for performing music and played in several bands including the Barrie Concert Band, the Baytowne Big Band, the Skyliners and The Bob Hunter Band. He felt strongly that there should be an outdoor facility on Barrie’s waterfront where people could gather and enjoy live music.
In 1999, shortly before his death, he and architect Millet Salter submitted a proposal to the Trillium Foundation to acquire funding for such a venue. Unfortunately, the project was not realized, but their ideas were quite similar in design and location to the outdoor band shell in Meridian Place.
In Bob’s memory, his family contributed funds to commission a work of art to be displayed at Meridian Place. They requested that it reflect Bob’s love of performing, his commitment to the community he loved, and his vision of Barrie’s beautiful waterfront as a place to gather and enjoy.
The Hunter family committed $52,000 to the project and the Barrie Public Art Committee (BPAC) raised an additional $50,000+ in gifts from interested residents and businesses. The funds raised were used for the competition process, creation of the commissioned work, installation costs, insurance, conservation and maintenance.
This is the first site-specific work for Meridian Place. This project’s acknowledgement of our performing arts history and its connection to an admired figure who played a central role in it, will provide a foundation for a diverse public art collection in Barrie. What better way to start than at Meridian Place, the centre of the city, where it all began with the realization of Bob Hunter’s vision.
The Horn and The Heart, by local artist John McEwen, has been installed in Meridian Place following a successful fundraising campaign and national competition to select an artist and concept.
McEwen’s proposal was selected for the strength of concept and design, foregrounding two essential elements: the symbolic heart, based on music and the emotional core of the work; and specific recognition of Bob Hunter by means of his chosen instrument, the trumpet.
Thinking through the experience of live music and the relationship between the performer and the audience, McEwen’s sculpture incorporates a double-sided horn and a split heart form. Made with stainless steel activated by the artist’s signature laser-cut star formations,
The Horn and The Heart is an elegant work that evokes the experience, emotion, and memory associated with live musical performance.
John McEwen is recognized as a pioneer in contemporary arts who is internationally renowned for his mastery of weathering steel. His creations feature among the world’s most prestigious collections and exhibits, and his large-scale installations occupy public spaces across Canada. A socially engaged artist, he embraces numerous themes in his work, such as history, philosophy, technology and the environment. His representations of the spiritual connections between humans and animals have moved the public for decades. In 2019 McEwen became a Member of the Order of Canada.
The successful proposal was selected by a jury of 5 local stakeholders. The Barrie Public Art Committee facilitated the process remaining arms-length. The jury included:
Mr. Hunter’s family approached
Barrie Public Art Committee offering $50,000 to go towards a piece of public art honouring his legacy in Barrie, installed in Meridian Place. Without the support of the Hunter family, the piece would not be possible at this time with the existing public art budget.
The artwork was conceived, fabricated and installed for $100,000. The budget for this project was covered by $52,000 donated to the City of Barrie by the Hunter family and $50,000+ fundraised from the community.
The venture of public art can be quite expensive, as public art is technically considered infrastructure and has to be treated as such. Because of this, most of the money spent on public art ultimately goes to fabricators, project management, engineering, installation, contractors, specialist fees, heavy equipment, raw materials, rigorous testing, and any number of invisible substructures intended for our safety. Maintenance costs also have to be considered in all public art installations.
People who contributed $1,000 or more to the fundraising campaign are recognized in name on a plaque near the sculpture.
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