Vancouver Icons: Engagement

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

To celebrate the third Vancouver Biennale of Public Art, running 2014-2016, I wanted to shine the spotlight on a few more legacy pieces that you can find around Vancouver such as my previous features, A-Maze-Ing Laughter, Echoes, and 217.5 Arc x 13′.

There are many things that catch a photographer’s eye down at English Bay, from waves lapping at the seawall and dreamy orange sunsets, to the Inukshuk statue and that one tree that’s always covered in lights around Christmas time. Another frequently-photographed subject is Engagement by Dennis Oppenheim, making these giant rings today’s Vancouver Icons photo feature:

Engagement Rings by Dennis Oppenheim + Fireworks

The two rings, with plexiglass houses in the place of diamonds, rise to about 30 feet and were originally placed along the seawall close to the entrance to Stanley Park. Today they can be found on the grassy slope beside Sunset Beach and as you can imagine, this has become a popular spot for a romantic picnic, proposal, and even outdoor weddings. Engagement was initially installed as a part of the Vancouver Biennale in 2005, coinciding with same sex marriage debates taking place in Canada at the time.

Engagement Rings by Dennis Oppenheim at English Bay
Photo credit: Danielle Bauer on Flickr

“As a commentary on the precarious balances in marriage, that of the romantic, traditional, economic and the illusions inherent in the institution, the meaning of Engagement is intentionally open-ended. Oppenheim often declines to interpret or explain his work, leaving the interpretation to the viewer.”

Engagement Rings
Photo credit: Adam Darcy on Flickr

Engagement   15 Dennis Oppenheim (USA) walk with 23mm
Photo credit: Stephen Rees & Junichi Ishito on Flickr

The Engagement Rings
Photo credit: Thomas Milne on Flickr

You may recall Device To Root Out Evil (aka the upside down church) that used to be in Coal Harbour, which was also one of Oppenheim’s pieces. It too was installed during the 2005-2007 Vancouver Biennale but had its share of controversy, moving to Calgary’s Glenbow Museum in 2008. Engagement will live on in Vancouver as it was purchased by the Vancouver Biennale as a legacy piece for generations to enjoy.

Engagement Rings along English Bay
Photo credit: Kyle Pearce on Flickr

Engagement Rings by Dennis Oppenheim
Photo credit: colink. on Flickr

2014 06 June 01 West End IRHDR 11a 3s hh z nn1 Engagement Rings B&W
Photo credit: Doug Farmer & SCC somecanuckchick on Flickr

English Bay Night Lights

Engaging It's Engaging...Sunset at English Bay, Vancouver, BC
Photo credit: Brigitte Mueller & Rosey-Noelle on Flickr

Engagement Rings by Dennis Oppenheim, foggy
Photo credit: colink. on Flickr

The Engagement Rings
Photo credit: Junichi Ishito on Flickr

Previous Vancouver Icons posts: Ovaltine Cafe, The English Bay Slide, Freezing Water #7, Cleveland Dam, Heritage Hall, School of Theology Building at UBC, Gate to the Northwest Passage, St Paul’s Hospital, Capilano Lake, Stawamus Chief, Nine O’Clock Gun, Malkin Bowl, Search, Vancouver Rowing Club, Echoes, Point Atkinson Lighthouse, English Bay Inukshuk, Hollow Tree, Hotel Europe, Lions Gate Bridge Lions, LightShed, Granville Bridge, 217.5 Arc x 13′, Canoe Bridge, Vancouver Block, Bloedel Conservatory, Centennial Rocket, Canada Place, Old Courthouse/Vancouver Art Gallery, Dominion Building, Science World, Gastown Steam Clock, SFU Burnaby, Commodore Lanes, Siwash Rock, Kitsilano Pool, White Rock Pier, Main Post Office, Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.

Comments are closed on this post
Also on