43 www.dryden.ca BAR • LOUNGE • FINE DINING • HOTEL THE 148 EARL AVENUE 223-4320 SOUPS & SALADS SHAREABLES BETWEEN THE BREAD GOURMET PIZZA The Contrarian BENCH ART It is human nature to follow or copy famous people and places, as though being famous makes them somehow superior. So we view the silly politics of our movie stars as acceptable. Drydenites go to Winnipeg to shop; Winnipeggers go to Minneapolis, Minneapolites go to New York, and New Yorkers to Paris. As if. So we build monumental marvels, like trying to have a taller tower than another city, or an even more shapeless pile of architectural arrogance “Museum of Political Correctness” than somewhere else. Here in Dryden, we have our Moose, which I must say is much superior to Kenora’s jackfish, or Minnesota’s walleye, or Wawa’s goose, or Moose Jaw’s cartoon moose, or that Flying saucer landing pad in Alberta, or Sudbury’s nickel, but still, it was following a fad. We just had to have a fountain at city hall, and narrowly avoided converting perfectly acceptable intersections into‘traffic circles’. Twenty-five years ago, we took out efficient modern street lighting and street signs downtown, in favour of a more contemporary (or should I say cutesy) look. Fifteen years later we took out the contemporary stuff and put in more antiquey - looking stuff to catch up to the latest fad. We just had to have raised flower beds on our downtown streets, just like places which do not have the pesky issue of actually having to plow snow. We dove right into the ‘Banners and Baskets’ look, which I must say looks just as nice here as in the 300 or so other Canadian towns who also dove into it. But we have something which is not following a fad, not copying or based on anything anywhere else, something all our own. Something I think we should be vest-busting proud of, and that is our Park Benches. Not just plain park benches, but each featuring an original work of art by a local artist. Great-looking art, art which relates to our place in the world, each a sight to gladden your heart. More importantly, our art. So here is my project. Picture a classy, glossy, coffee-table book, “Dryden’s Benches”, each page is a high-quality photograph of one of our benches, with a dissertation describing what the piece depicts, its history or importance, and of course a biography of the artist as well. If we don’t have enough benches,wecouldthrowinpagesonotherartworks,suchasWilleneMoffat’s excellent stained glass sculpture in Johnston’s park, or, OK, let’s throw in the Moose as well, and maybe those stylized banners and explain what each depicts. I am sure folks who, unlike me, actually know something about art can come up with lots more to make it a real book. 43