A tribute to George Alexander Norris, sculptor 1928-2013. George passed away in Victoria this week.
George created this 95 foot frieze for Vancouver’s Postal Station D at 2300 Pine Street in Vancouver in 1967. Norris is perhaps best known for his iconic sculpture of a crab in the fountain at the Museum of Vancouver (then the Centennial Museum).
Some of his other work was less respected; his 1974 stainless steel pinwheel sculpture at Pacific Centre Plaza was dismantled, given to the City of Surrey, where it remained in storage until it was unceremoniously scrapped.
Another Norris sculpture was situated on the northeast corner of Cambie and Dunsmuir streets in downtown Vancouver, at the west end of the Georgia Viaduct inside what was known as Abutment Park. According to a phone conversation Gary Sim conducted with the artist, the unnamed piece was effectively “a bridge marker” akin to those the Romans once placed at their bridges.
From Gary Sim’s Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950, he writes:
The bridge marker, a welded bronze structure, originally had four glass spheres (containing a mix of clear chemicals that would not freeze) mounted in it. These spheres and the welded bronze structure were enclosed in glass panels. The spheres were intended to reflect the lights of cars on the road, as a cat’s eyes would, as the cars went past. Some time later the sculpture began to fall into disrepair. The glass panels leaked and the sculpture filled with water, then the glass panels were all broken or removed. All four glass globes were smashed by vandals. The Editor, while sitting on the Vancouver Public Art Committee in 2000-2001, attempted to start a process that would end in the repair of the sculpture.
In the telephone conversation with the sculptor, Norris indicated that given its damaged state, he would definitely prefer the sculpture be destroyed. Two years later the sculpture remained untended, and in 2004 a large advertising sign was placed in front of it. Shortly afterwards the sculpture was removed and presumably sold for scrap. The concrete foundation remained while longer, but eventually was removed when the entire area was rebuilt for the new condo development.
May the work of George Norris be remembered and respected henceforth and forevermore. For an even more thorough record of his work, see this post over at the excellent blog DesignKultur.