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The eyes have it: New public art will act as a beacon to the Arts Court and Ottawa Art Gallery

August 2, 2018
Feature Stories

Brooklyn based artist, Adam Frank has been awarded the public art commission for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project for his artwork Spectator.

Spectator is a dynamic, interactive billboard. The art installation will operate as a beacon, attracting people to Arts Court and the Ottawa Art Gallery. A large LED video screen installed on the exterior facade will display the eyes of everyone who has ever participated in the artwork.

Inside the newly renovated Arts Court facility, the public will be invited to look into a viewing portal, which will show a real time view of outside, from the point of view of the video screen. The participants’ eyes will be video captured as they look out to the street below. Spectator will show the viewing history of everyone who has ever engaged with the artwork. This work is truly participatory as it allows the public to become a permanent part of the artwork and see themselves in it.


Large LED screen displaying a video of a pair of eye installed on the stone wall of Arts Court building.

Spectator celebrates and elevates each viewer by reversing the traditional relationship between viewer and artwork. The installation will be a dynamic, ever-changing portrait of the community that adds subtle human expression to the Ottawa skyline. The artwork is scheduled to be installed by fall 2019.

This work and others are commissioned by the Public Art Program. In keeping with Public Art Policy one percent of funds for municipal development projects is set aside for public art to enhance the space and make art accessible to everyone.

The City’s Public Art Program initiated a two-stage public art competition for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Art Court Redevelopment Project. Proposals were reviewed by an Art Selection Committee, who selected Adam Frank’s proposal based on evaluation criteria that included such considerations as artistic excellence, experience of the artist, and site integration. 

For more information about the new public art, visit or email

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