UNVEILING - City Councillor Vesna Higham and B.C. artist Nathan Scott pose beside his newly unveiled sculpture called ‘The Face-off’ at the Servus Arena April 18th. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Red Deer’s latest ‘Ghost’ statue unveiled at Servus Arena

‘The Face-off’ is the 11th ‘Ghost’ in the notable bronze series

Red Deer’s latest piece of public art – created by artist Nathan Scott – was unveiled this week just outside the Servus Arena entrance.

The sculpture, entitled ‘The Face-off’, is the 11th ‘Ghost’ in the notable bronze series located throughout downtown, said City Manager Craig Curtis, adding it’s a superb addition to the popular Ghost series of statues in the community.

“When the first one was unveiled, we knew we had a winning program. And it’s really advanced over the years with the support of successive councils.”

‘The Face-off’ features three life-size figures – two pee-wee hockey players and a referee who are actively engaged in one of the most exciting moments of the game.

The numbers on the back of the children’s jerseys are also significant – ‘52’ is the year the original Red Deer arena opened, and the number ‘18’ marks the inauguration of the Servus Arena, which officially opened earlier this year.

“It reflects the energy, excitement and hard work, sacrifice, perseverance and pride that we associate with the sport of hockey. It also underscores the significance of this sport in our collective ‘lived’ experience across this country,” said City Councillor Vesna Higham, who was serving as deputy mayor at the unveiling.

As officials pointed out, this is the first ‘Ghost’ that does not represent a specific individual; rather, the piece engages the viewer in a reflective feeling of emotional excitement.

Public Art Commission Chair Allan MacIntyre said there were so many pieces to choose from. “We had something like 12 possibilities, then we had to narrow that down to three. And then out of those three fantastic sculptures, we had to choose one.

“For those of you who are parents, it would be sort of like picking out your favourite child when you are looking at three amazing works of art,” he added with a laugh.

“We reviewed all of those and came up with a final decision, and I know you will all be impressed,” he said prior to the unveiling.

”We believe this sculpture will create a feeling and it’s going to be hard not to smile at it, and hard not to think about your past. And it also looks to the future, which is an amazing thing for a work of art to do.”

Scott, who hails from Victoria, said that although he’s not much of a hockey buff, he really wanted to capture the spirit of the sport in the sculpture.

“A lot of fun was in coming up with the idea, but also in coming up with the models. For the kids, my wife just went on facebook and said, ‘Anyone who plays hockey, come on out’.”

For the referee, Scott asked a business acquaintance if he would serve as a model.

“I went up to him one day and said, I have to ask you a personal question. I said I wanted his body. He was thrilled – he hadn’t been asked that in 30 years,” he added with a laugh. “So it’s been a lot of fun. There is about two and a half months’ worth of sculpting right here – putting it all together and making it work.

“From there, the casting was another four months right there. So it’s quite labour intensive. But it turned out well, and I’m really happy with it.”

Scott said he was thrilled to learn his project proposal had been chosen out of so many submissions, and he’s also pleased to be part of the ‘Ghost’ series in Red Deer.

“The collection of art (here) is incredible, so to be a part of this – I’m very honoured and very blessed.”

For more information about public art in Red Deer, visit www.reddeer.ca/publicart.