SCTV Monument: Journey of an Artist
The Art Incubator Gallery, January 8 – February 20, 2021
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton
Ritchie Velthuis is one of the most prolific contemporary sculptors in Alberta and a well-known cultural activist. The exhibition project oscillates around the history, conceptual development, production, and the presentation of “SCTV Monument”, Velthuis’s most recent public art project, which was installed in late March 2020 at the intersection of 103rd Street and 103rd Avenue in Edmonton’s Ice District.
Curated by Darren Kooyman, the exhibition “Ritchie Velthuis: SCTV Monument – Journey of an Artist” traces and explains – with the support of a rich photo-documentation, conceptual sketches, project maquettes, official correspondence, and other documentation – the artistic journey ‘behind the scenes’ of this project through seven segments: The Genesis, Creating the Original, At the Foundry, The Patina, Revisions, Installation, and Public Reactions. The latter segment includes a series of the photographs that people have taken of themselves with the sculpture and which have randomly appeared on Facebook, thus highlighting the public response to and interaction with this iconic sculpture.
The bronze sculpture project showcases the iconic Bob and Doug McKenzie, two key characters from Second City Television (SCTV), a Canadian sketch comedy show that ran from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. The characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie were played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. In fact, those characters were developed in Edmonton when the show was filmed here at ITV Studios that was owned by Dr. Charles Allard, a well-known local philanthropist. Dr. Allard agreed to fund the series as long as it was filmed in Edmonton. Subsequently, with the critical assistance of the SCTV Monument Committee, the Allard family, both actors: Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, community support, and public funding, the SCTV Monument project was launched in 2012. Ritchie Velthuis was successful in his bid for the SCTV Monument project. The characters created by SCTV in Edmonton were a bit of Canadiana that was shared with the world and they resonated with people. As Ritchie Velthuis says, “these brilliant comedic actors (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) were part of this ensemble making TV in Edmonton, playing stereotypical Canadians with the beers and toques, and funny talk …”. And adds, “I am just super honoured to represent the Canadian icons that they truly are. Bob and Doug spoke to Canadian culture so profoundly, so eloquently in such a relatable way. And there’s folklore about them working here, stories that probably aren’t even half true. But they left a mark …”.
Edmonton sculptor Ritchie Velthuis knows that part of his legacy will be related to his community-driven, interactive art projects. SCTV’s iconic characters Bob and Doug are a highlight in Velthuis’s impressive artistic career.
Ritchie Velthuis is one of the most prolific contemporary sculptors in Alberta and a well-known cultural activist. After completing the Design Arts Program at Grant MacEwan College (currently MacEwan University), Velthuis worked as a graphic designer for several years but was always drawn back to a fine art sensibility.
He has devoted the last 25 years to the exploration of sculpture in various mediums, including clay, resin, stone, cement, ice, and snow. This commitment was rewarded with the distinct honour of designing a Homeless Memorial for Edmonton in 2011, which was collaboratively created with Keith Turnbull, Mike Turnbull, and several community artists. Velthuis received numerous prestigious awards for his ice and snow sculptures, which include People’s Choice, Artist Choice, and 1st place in the national category of the International Snow Sculpture Event at Carnival in Québec City. Ritchie Velthuis is a focused and considerate artist. He has developed strong community-based works in the past and gone on to successfully exhibit them in the professional gallery environment and in the realm of public space. His impressive body of work was enthusiastically received among his peers and mentors and can be found in several private and public collections throughout the province.
Image: SCTV Monument (detail), bronze, 2020
Courtesy of Paul Swanson