Quick! Think of a city. Any major city. What came to mind?

My memory of cities I’ve visited is linked to the art I stumbled across while wandering through streets and squares.

I think of Maman, the massive bronze spider in Ottawa by Louise Bourgeois. And Robert Indiana’s Love in NYC.

I also think of Aporia in downtown Kitchener at Fredrick and Ellen Streets in front of the old provincial courthouse. The large, red fiberglass sculpture is one of my favourite pieces of art in the city.

Not everyone likes the piece by Ed Zelenak, and it made residents uncomfortable when it was unveiled in 1980.

Aporia, for inquiring minds, is an ancient Greek word meaning an irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction in a text, argument, or theory; or the expression of doubt — all of which seems rather fitting for a courthouse sculpture.

For Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener + Area (CAFKA) board members Catherine Bischoff and Jen Love, public art — and the feelings it inspires — is key to the health and vibrancy of a community.

CAFKA is an artist-run, non-for-profit that hosts a biennial exhibition focused on contemporary art. Art by world-renowned artists is shown in public places, free of charge. The next exhibit runs May 28 – June 26, 2016.

“You don’t have to like it, but it gets conversations going,” Love said. Public art, she adds, asks you what it means to be part of a community.

Bischoff, who spent many years in European metropolises, admits she took public art for granted in those cities.

“I just assumed that art is accessible and all around me, but it’s not,” she said. “Sometimes it’s behind walls, and daunting and arrogant.”

Both Bischoff and Love see public-art offerings like CAFKA as a tool to help expand Waterloo Region’s cultural offerings.

“We want to be more than just tech town,” Bischoff said. “It’s essential for expanding our community to create interesting environments for people to live in. That includes transit, music, restaurants — and art.”

To build awareness, and funds for the upcoming exhibition, CAFKA is throwing a New Year’s Eve party in partnership with Apollo Cinema, 141 Ontario St. N., Kitchener.

The evening is a mix of art, dance and food. Electronic DJs spooloops, aquapher and Mike Lambert will be spinning music in the theatre, where projection art will be screened. The art is responsive and adapts to whatever music the DJs play.

In the bar area, there will be artists and performances. Attendees can sit and watch, get up and dance, and have a good time.

“Bring friends and come as you are, no dress code,” Love said. “Have fun and make it your own party.”

Tickets are $35 each online, or $40 at the door. The party runs from 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 3 a.m. Jan. 1. 

Love and Bischoff hope to see people from local tech companies at the party and at CAFKA events in 2016. There’s a large crossover between contemporary art and technology today, Love says, such as video art and an interplay between screens and people. A maker and creative mentality fuels the young class of workers, including the ones in the tech field, Love says.

“Startups are innately creative,” Love said.

The CAFKA team hopes to stretch people’s ideas and get them to join larger conversations about how to make Waterloo Region a culturally vibrant ecosystem. For now, though, it’s inviting you to ring in the new year in a fun and vibrant setting in downtown Kitchener.

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This is my last column for 2015. I’m taking next week off to hang out with my family and wrap presents! Alex Kinsella will have the honour of writing the last Tech About Town column of the year  . . . I see and hear that this Thursday (Dec. 17) is the first FUNtario Christmas Party, starting at 7 p.m. Head to the Apollo Cinema (141 Ontario St. S., Kitchener) wearing your ugly Christmas sweater for a fun party and screening of Elf. If you don’t have a Christmas sweater to wear, StylFrugl will have a decorating table at the cinema. Other Ontario Street vendors will also have stalls set up. You can participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange that evening as well. Just bring a wrapped, $10 gift. The event is free — all you need to to do is show up!  . . . Saturday (Dec. 18) is the third annual KW Entrepreneur Holiday Party. The party at Maxwell’s Concerts and Events (35 University Ave. E., Waterloo) includes music, food and drinks. Tickets are $30 each, and all proceeds go to The Grand River Hospital Foundation. The night includes a silent auction and photo booth. This year, there is a red-and-white colour dress code that attendees are encouraged to follow.

Photo: Terrasect by Jenn Norton from CAFKA.11