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public art

A sculpture on the US - Canadian border greets visitors at the border crossing near Blaine Washington on October 28th, 2010.Simon Hayter for The Globe and Mail

Travellers heading into Washington State through the Peace Arch border crossing encounter a plethora of ads on billboards (duty free shopping, anyone?). Now, your passport is also your ticket to a brush with art. Non-Sign II and other Apertures, installed on the U.S. side of the crossing about a week ago, is a 15-metre-by-9-metre non-billboard; a framed absence.

"We're using the vehicle of the billboard as a way to reinforce your attention back to the landscape and the atmosphere, the thing that the two nations share in common," said artist Daniel Mihalyo of Seattle's Lead Pencil Studio, who co-created the work with Annie Han.

Too big to fit in the artists' studio, the stainless steel work was constructed in six parts. With a budget of $215,000 (U.S.), it was funded by the U.S. government's Art in Architecture program, which commissions large-scale works for federal buildings (in this case, the refurbished border crossing, which officially opens on U.S. Thanksgiving).