“I chose Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus as the site for Di-Octo because it was here that I began my journey as a student — before embarking as a businessman and real estate developer,” says Wener. “It is here, in 1971 at the Henry Hall F. Building, that I met my dear wife Susan on her very first day at freshman orientation.”
The eight-metre-high, 725-kilogram sculpture represents a significant contribution to Concordia’s collection of public art.
The piece comes alive as the wind blows, stretching out with open arms and reopening its stainless-steel tentacles ad infinitum. Wener chose Di-Octo because of its kinetic action and mesmerizing and dynamic nature. “It’s hypnotic,” he says.
It only takes two kilometres an hour of wind to activate its moving parts — and it works in near complete silence. “Di-Octo is a beautiful, original sculpture whose graceful folding arms are a symbolic greeting for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors,” Wener says. “What better way to welcome everyone to our great university, city, province and country!”
Concordia President Alan Shepard is grateful for the distinctive artwork. “Jonathan and Susan Wener have given our university, city and province an exceptional, next generation artwork,” he says. “Di-Octo is a striking visual metaphor for Concordia’s strategic direction to embrace our city. This sculpture is a feat of engineering that will allow Concordians and Montrealers to contemplate the role of art in our society. And I love it! I can watch it from my office and it's mesmerizing.”
It was France Chrétien Desmarais, LLD 15, prominent Montreal lawyer, businesswoman and president of the Society for the Celebration of Montreal’s 375th Anniversary, who helped convince Wener to donate an artwork to honour the city’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversaries.
Wener chose to make Concordia its home. “I love my alma mater,” he says. “My most passionate, benevolent work is done at the university. I have always loved public art, going back to my very first buildings in 1980. This opportunity seemed such a wonderful confluence of events to celebrate our history with another piece of magnificent sculpture by an internationally famous artist.”
He discovered Anthony Howe’s work through his daughter, Katherine (Kassy) Wener, who was given the family mandate to find a sculpture that would be truly inspirational. “She was as moved and excited as Susan and I were by Anthony Howe’s genius and creativity,” says Wener.