Artists breathe new life into historic park fountain

By Costa Maragos Posted: July 2, 2017 5:30 p.m.

Paul McLeod and Shelly Braun, nearby residents, check out the refurbished 90-year old fountain at Confederation Park. U of R artists, current students and alumni, created a replication of the frogs that adorn the fountain.
Paul McLeod and Shelly Braun, nearby residents, check out the refurbished 90-year old fountain at Confederation Park. U of R artists, current students and alumni, created a replication of the frogs that adorn the fountain. Photo courtesy of External Relations

Regina’s historic Confederation Park is experiencing a re-birth thanks in part to the work of some University of Regina artists.

Confederation Park
In all, the U of R artists replicated 16 frogs to replace the original water-spouting zinc frogs which had fallen into a state of disrepair.
A grand opening of the park was held June 30 and at the centre of the event was the unveiling of the refurbished 90-year old fountain.

The park opened in 1927, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Confederation. Over the years, however, the park and the fountain fell into a state of disrepair and for many residents was largely forgotten.

With the construction of Mosaic Stadium, the city embarked on a renewal plan for Confederation Park, located a few metres away from the stadium.

The park will be the new pre-game meeting place for thousands of football fans. But for other days the park will serve as a peaceful urban oasis, particularly now that it has been brought back to its former glory.
“I was honoured by the opportunity to participate in this legacy project and to leave a mark on the City of Regina,” says Olivia Rozema, who earned her Master of Fine Arts from the U of R in 2016.

Rozema was part of an artist team tasked with replicating 16 water-spouting zinc frogs, the fountain’s crowning glory. The frogs circle the fountain in four tiers.

The original pieces were in such bad shape, they had to be replaced.

The other artists were Shane Crerar (BFA ’12) and Jovial Buenavente and Kasia Solomon, both current BFA candidates.
Frog Close up
The Confederation Park fountain work is part of a larger renewal that includes trees, shrubs, and benches designed according to the park’s original design.

The artists worked under the direction of Sean Whalley, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts who teaches sculpture in the Faculty of Media, Arts, and Performance.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to involve students in a legacy community project and to mentor them as emerging professional artists,” says Whalley.

The team took on the task of modeling and making the molds of three different-sized spitter-frogs, which were cast in concrete.

The artists determined the amphibians would be modeled on Saskatchewan varieties.

To ensure accuracy and variety, the artists connected with Dr. Chris Somers, Associate Professor from the

Department of Biology. Somers helped the artists identify native Saskatchewan species of aquatic frogs and discuss their size and appearance.

“I was very happy and excited to help out with the frog sculptures,” says Somers. “It was excellent that they went to this level of detail for the project.”

Featured in the fountain are replicas of the Western Chorus Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, and the Wood Frog.

“When I was approached to sculpt a Wood Frog, I chose to emphasize the frog’s most distinctive features: its mask, and the ridges that run down its back,” says Rozema. “In this manner, even though it is made of concrete, is 10 inches tall and spits water, it is still recognizably a little wood frog.”

(Photos below show the evolution of a replica Wood Frog by Olivia Rozema, from the studio to the fountain, where it will be enjoyed by visitors for decades to come)

frong 1 frog 2
frog 3 frog4
Rozema says the little Wood Frog is an apt metaphor for people in the province.

“Like the residents of Saskatchewan, the wood frog is hardy and has the extreme cold tolerance to withstand the frigid temperatures of the winter months. They can endure the freezing of their blood and other tissue, and can survive several freeze/thaw cycles,” says Rozema. “The wood frog is as noteworthy and extraordinary as the people that I have come to know and love in this province, and I hope that I did it justice.”

Kasia Solomon created the second tier Western Chorus frog sculpture.

“It was a great pleasure and a unique experience to have worked on the frog fountain project,” says Solomon. The project was a great learning opportunity as it allowed me to be involved in every aspect of its fruition, from design to its process. It was very exciting to see the final product come together as a beautiful piece of Regina's architecture. I am honoured to have been a part of this historical event.”

The U of R team started working on the project in January 2017 which included partners: The City of Regina, PCL Construction Management, AECOM Architects, Cindercrete, Neil Balkwill Centre and the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance.
The renewal project includes new trees, shrubs, and benches in accordance with the park’s original design.
Modern conveniences including an irrigation system and pathway lighting have also added new life to one of the city’s oldest parks.