Instagram-Worthy 200-Foot Outdoor Art Installation Drives Foot Traffic at Deerfoot City in Calgary [Photos]

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PARK (Promoting Artists Redefining Kulture) has partnered with Destination Deerfoot City, a 1.1-million-square-foot shopping centre in northeast Calgary, to launch #YYCBlockParty, a 200-foot outdoor interactive art installation and patio space.

“Destination Deerfoot City is excited to collaborate with local artists Leetia Lyons, Rachel Ziriada, and Mikhail Miller of NASARIMA, Rhys Farrell, and Sydonne Warren to bring this project to life. These five artists exemplify the mission of Destination Deerfoot City,” said Deb Mathias, General Manager of the shopping centre.


Courtney Verbeek, Creative Services Coordinator for Deerfoot City, said the idea behind the art installation was to inject some vibrancy into the city coming out of what’s been a tough couple of months with the pandemic.

“And also to create a really accessible public art installation that is safe to enjoy in the times that we’re in right now. That basically includes the roadway view and an interactive patio space with seating as well,” she said.

The initiative is in place until September 30.


Block Party provides a vibrant, accessible, and safe community space where Calgarians can engage with outdoor public art and one another while socially distancing. The installation is lined by over 200 feet of pathway and walk space and is accompanied by art adorned picnic tables, umbrellas and benches that meet Alberta Health guidelines for spacing and cleaning protocols.

In collaboration with Deerfoot City, Rhys Farrell and Sydonne Warren designed a 200-foot road mural for #YYCBlockParty — the largest of its kind in the history of the city, said Deerfoot City.

The mural is hand painted by Farrell featuring striping patterns and geometric shapes that are the signature of both artists. Guests will be able “stay and play” by enjoying the many food vendors at Deerfoot City’s Food

Lodge, outdoor shopping on The Boulevard and entertainment including outdoor lawn games.

“There was a time period working with the artists for this and because it was our first one and it’s so new we wanted to see how it works and there’s always a possibility that we’ll revisit this again next year because we’re looking at all our marketing and everything differently than we have in the past,” said Mathias.

“In an event like this, especially you’re going through a pandemic, it’s perfect because the traditional event in a shopping centre would be a four-hour period on a busy Saturday. You can’t do that anymore. The idea that we had with this setup is that it could go over a couple of months and throughout the day so that we aren’t pulling in an overabundance of people at one time. By spreading it out over days, it allows us to stay within the safety limits for the number of people attending.”

The transformation of Deerfoot City began in 2014. The 1.1 million-square-foot redevelopment will have 550,000 square feet of outdoor retail space.

“We are an outdoor shopping centre and we’re really focusing on that and it makes people feel a little more comfortable being able to for example walk into a H&M and not having to walk through a full shopping centre,” said Mathias.

“The shopping centre industry has changed in my opinion but the changes that we’re making here are working in our favour being an outdoor shopping centre.”


Outside of being a commercial shopping property, said Verbeek, Deerfoot City is focused on being a hub for the community.


“That’s kind of the lens that we put on all marketing initiatives that we have here. What we liked about Block Party is that first of all it’s a platform to really elevate local artists in our community that need the work right now and also this is a free way to engage with public art. It just ties back to the fact that we want to be here for the community regardless of the times we’re in and we’re looking to really adapt our strategies in order to continue to meet that need,” she said.

Mathias said the redevelopment of the shopping centre continues. Leasing is finishing up on The Boulevard and its Food Lodge. Then the focus will be on a restaurant campus.

The Food Lodge is currently open and the restaurant campus is in the planning stage right now.

“It’s just a matter of timing. With COVID and the pandemic we want to make sure that we do it in a fiscally prudent way to make sure that all of our businesses now are up and running and then we take the next step. I’m not a person to give a date but I’m thinking it’s going to be at least a couple of years,” added Mathias. “It all depends on the economy too. It’s all driven by that.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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