Public art continues to beautify the city as local artist Keith Carlson takes on a project between two buildings at the Prince George & District Community Arts Council complex on 15th Avenue.
Carlson, a painter, sculpture and most recently wood carver, said he's been looking at those poles for far too long.
"I just got tired of looking at them and thought I'm going to do something about this," said Carlson, a recently retired Kelly Road secondary school art teacher.
The poles were foundations pieces left over from totem poles when the Two Rivers Art Gallery was situated at the Arts Council's current location. The gallery moved to its new facility at the Civic Plaza in 2000.
"A couple of artists, Elmer Gunderson and John Rogers, had done a couple carvings and the rest had been left in disrepair," said Lisa Redpath, project coordinator at the Community Arts Council. "We wanted to do something with them and Keith just stepped up to the plate and decided he was going to take this on. I am just absolutely amazed at what he's done so far. And for an arts complex, the Community Arts Council is really starting to look like one."
The Horizons project includes two paintings located at the front of the buildings, the mural at the back created by Milan Basic, and now the poles to enhance the complex.
Carlson saw the posts as the opportunity to explore art on a larger scale.
"I had done a snow sculpture in my front yard earlier this year and I was interested in continuing working large in some way, shape or form," said Carlson, who got his initial degree at the University of Saskatchewan, his masters at the University of Victoria and did post graduate work at UBC.
"I wanted the carvings to relate directly to what the arts council does," said Carlson, who sits on the board, as well as a public art committee and the performing arts centre society. "I have plans for pretty well all the poles and over the next year hopefully most or all will be done."
Each of the 10 poles will take between 14 and 20 hours to complete and some will be more complicated than others.
There's going to be a violin, theatre masks, something to represent the fibre arts, wood turners, and a symbol depicting children, as well, he added.
Weather is not the only issue to consider when creating outdoor art.
"There's been some rot in some of the poles so it takes me a little longer to figure out what to do with it," said Carlson. "When I taught art and sculpture to my students, they would make mistakes and then they would want something better than their mistake so I got used to working with things that offered problems and so I just look and see what I've got and I try to pursue that idea within the limits of the material."
Carlson taught sculpture to students for years, and worked with wood off and on for decades.
Carlson has carved in plaster and made small wood sculptures with chisels and worked with a chainsaw for four months while he was at university.
"I really like the idea of people realizing that art is a part of a community and there's a certain power to art," said Carlson. "With the public art on display like Milan Basic's murals, people can then appreciate art -- even in Prince George."