Behind the scenes of Stampede’s newest public art piece, Rainbow Trout

The newest piece of Calgary Stampede public art, Rainbow Trout, was unveiled today. Years of experience and months of thought, planning and construction went into this piece, created by Calgary Artist Jeff de Boer. The piece is the first of five public art pieces planned for ENMAX Park.

The 6.5 metre sculpture took de Boer and his team more 2,000 hours to build, 750 of which were spent grinding and polishing the base. Powder coated stainless steel and aluminum sheet metal make up the six sections of the trout body that was fabricated in de Boer’s Ramsay studio. The stainless steel pipe base structure was also fabricated in Calgary and employed two people full time during these tough economic times.

Jeff de Boer studio

For de Boer, Rainbow Trout is the product of a lifetime of developing his ideas and skills. His experiences with great works of modern art from around the world are reflected in this sculpture. The stainless steel pipe structure takes its inspiration from Japanese splashing wave patterns. The engineering and lines of the pipe get their strength from the same principles as gothic arches. The back supports for the fish body components are external decorative structures like flying buttresses. The open work and use of light and color to detail the fish image are similar to stained glass. “This sculpture is the product of a long journey of a community and, from that, myself,” said de Boer.

Jeff de Boer

Raised in Calgary, de Boer grew up fishing the Bow and Elbow rivers. So why not a Rainbow Trout where the Elbow enters the Bow? It’s a crossroads of two rivers and a metaphor for evolution, history and culture. Rainbow Trout speaks to diversity, cultural excitement and energy in Calgary. Its forms and shapes are both literal and abstract, bright and sophisticated.

Lit by LED lights, Rainbow Trout takes on an entirely different and spectacular look at night. Each panel is interesting to view on its own, but as an added delight, there is a “sweet spot” from which to view the sculpture where the whole design comes together to reveal the complete image.

Rainbow Trout

The de Boer name is not new to the Stampede story.  de Boer’s father helped build the Union 76 Clock Tower that was once an iconic meeting place for Stampede goers. de Boer hopes Rainbow Trout becomes another iconic meeting place to visitors of ENMAX Park and ultimately Stampede Park.

Rainbow Trout welcomes the community at the north entrance of ENMAX Park near the historical MacDonald Bridge. Displaying public art in ENMAX Park is part of the overall vision to make Stampede Park a year-round gathering place. Designed to be an open-air museum and outdoor classroom, ENMAX Park is also a way for us to share our stories of western heritage, our commitment to environmental stewardship and the milestones of Calgary’s rich history with the community.

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