Ottawa Street Art

I regularly travel to Ottawa—Canada’s capital city—but it was only during my most recent visit in the summer of 2018 that I noticed a lot of street art around the city.

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos

1. Hintonburg

Hintonburg is a neighborhood a few kilometers west of downtown Ottawa. During the last couple of decades it has been undergoing a long process of hipsterfication and gentrification. While I was visiting Ottawa, my sister, who lives in Ottawa, took me on a tour of some of the street art around Hintonburg.

Scattered around the neighborhood are several murals by Arpi (aka Rene-Pierre Beaudry: www.instagram.com/arpi_la_vie), an artist formerly from Montreal who specializes in realistic depictions of animals, birds, insects and reptiles. It is quite unusual to see one artist’s work dominate a neighborhood to such an extent.

Here is one his murals on a shopfront on Armstrong Street.

Street Art by Arpi; Armstrong St.
Mural by Arpi (detail view)
Mural by Arpi (detail view)

Arpi also created the following mural on a residential street. Besides featuring images of birds, branches and insects, the mural (which is partially blocked by a pole and is half-covered in vines) also includes images of utility poles, a transformer and street lamps. The whole thing is a kind of intermingling of natural and man-made elements.

Street art mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa
Mural (detail view) by Arpi
Mural (detail view) by Arpi
Mural (detail view) by Arpi

The next mural references nature, cycling and the old Ottawa Electric Railway, a tram line which was in operation from 1891 to 1958. Nowadays, many cities are starting to move towards electric buses, but the local bus operator, OC Transpo, hasn’t been enthusiastic about the idea. Perhaps the mural’s slogan ’round we go’ is a call to action to return to more environmentally-friendly electric public transport.

Mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa.

Arpi also painted this large mural of a cat.a

Mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa

The next mural is on the wall of the Railbender tattoo parlor on Hamilton Street. There is a lot going on the design, so I find the whole thing a little chaotic. I am not sure if Arpi painted all the elements.

Mural by Arpi; Hamilton Street, Ottawa
Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Gecko: Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Train: Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Wellington St. electrical enclosures; art by Arpi
Hawk: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi
Grasshopper: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi
Toad: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi

On the wall of an auto-repair shop is this large mural by Ryan Smeeton (www.instagram.com/ryansmeeton). The image of a laborer serves as a tribute to the working-class roots of Hintonburg.

Mural by Ryan Smeeton
Mural by Ryan Smeeton

2. Bank Street, Downtown

Bank St. is the main road which runs from north to south, bisecting the city. If you are downtown, you can look for some of these artworks. The first mural is by Cassandra D (www.instagram.com/SnikrDBS). It towers over a sitting-out area at Bank St. just south of Slater.

Street art mural by Cassandra D (Style Over Status); on Bank Str. Ottawa
Street art mural by Cassandra D (Style Over Status)

If you head south on Bank St., a few blocks to the corner of Lisgar Street. you may come across this lovely fish mural painted on a construction hoarding. It was painted by the laportebrothers, Phil and Dom Laporte (www.instagram.com/laportebrothers & www.instagram.com/domlasoul)

Mural by laportebrothers (Phil & Dom Laporte); Bank St., Ottawa
Mural by laportebrothers (detail view)

One block south of Lisgar is this colorful mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper. Like the rest of the murals in this section, the building address is on Bank. St. but the actual mural is on the side of the building

Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets
Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets (detail view)
Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets (detail view)

If you go a few blocks further south on Bank St., you will reach Gilmour St., where there is a mural celebrating Canada’s first march for gay rights, which took place in Ottawa in 1971.

LGBT Mural, Gilmour Street
LGBT mural (detail view)
Guitarist, tags and throw-ups (I can’t remember exactly where this is, but I imagine there is a shiny new building there now.)
Doorway at the corner of Lewis Street and Bank St.

A few blocks to the west of Bank St. on Slater St. is this series of murals on a wall at the back of a dog park. The wall is known as Techwall as the other side of the wall was the site of Ottawa Technical High School, which closed in 1992. The mural was still being painted when I was there and appears to have been created by dbscrew. If you have any information about the artists, please let me know.

Street art mural at Tech Wall by (I think) dbscrew; Slater Street; Ottawa
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)

3. The Glebe

Further south, Bank Street runs through the upscale neighborhood known as the Glebe, where you can see these two murals by Pat Buck (www.instagram.com/patbuck_thekid) and Dan Metcalfe (www.instagram.com/thehigherups). The murals are in the alley between Third and Fourth Avenues.

Matryoshka-inspired street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe
Street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)
Street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)
Mural by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe
Mural by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)

4. Preston Street and Somerset Street

In a parking lot just off Preston St. is this large mural by Dems (www.instagram.com/d3M5) and Sarah Doll (www.instagram.com/doll.face.one). This is said to be the largest street art mural in the city..

Street art by Dems & Doll (Sarah Doll); Preston St., Ottawa
Street art (detail view) by Dems & Doll (Sarah Doll)

Running perpendicular to Preston St., Somerset St. passes through the heart of Ottawa’s Chinatown (the businesses in the neighborhood now represent a wide variety of cultures). Some of the artworks on Somerset St. were painted during a 2013 street art event called Chinatown Blossoms, which paired up artists and small businesses in an effort to beautify the district..

Street Art at Somerset and Booth
Street Art on Somerset Street

There were a few panda-themed artworks on display. Here is the largest one.

Panda mural, Somerset Street
Mural on the side of the Royal Phuket restaurant (detail view)
Portrait

The mural shown below is by Julian Garner (www.instagram.com/5ivecents). It is beautiful, but is mostly behind trees. The mural should be easier to see in the winter, after the leaves have fallen. It is located on the side of the Art House Cafe at the Corner of Somerset and Bay Streets.

Hidden mural by Julian Garner; Somerset Street
Mural (detail view) by Julian Garner

5. The Byward Market

The area around the Byward Market is Ottawa’s traditional trendy (if that is not too much of an oxymoron) restaurant and nightlife area .I noticed a few large murals while strolling around.

Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa
Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa

The mural shown below was difficult to photograph as it is in a shady alley

Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa
Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa

I like the mythical feel of this mural by Drew Mosley (drew-mosley.com) and Pat Buck. The creature on the far right is carrying fire while the one on the far left is carrying shelter. But what about the two in the middle?

Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York
Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York
Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York

At the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets is this large mural that was a created as part of a collaboration between the Ottawa School of Art and a group of young Inuit artists known as the Embassy of Imagination (www.embassyofimagination.com). The main subject of the mural is a whale, with its stomach filled with all manner of life.

Street art mural by the Ottawa School of Art and Embassy of Imagination; at the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets, Ottawa
Street art mural by the Ottawa School of Art and Embassy of Imagination; at the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets, Ottawa

On the York Steps is this artwork entitled Kwáshkwan-in! (Jump!). It features Salmon leaping up the steps.This art was commissioned by the federal government and was created by Naomi Ratte.

Kwáshkwan-in! (Jump!), artwork by Naomi Ratte on the York Street Steps

6. Gatineau & Chaudière Island

Just across the river from Ottawa, is the city of Gatineau (which is in the French-speaking province of Quebec). The three pieces I saw there seemed to be mounted onto the walls rather than painted directly onto the walls. Here are the three works: a pop art collage by Marin Mitrasinovic (konceptart.ca/about), a colorful and enchanting portrait of a street artist by Rafaël Alin and a portrait by Maria-Rosa Szychowska (www.szychowska.com).

Pop60 by Marin Mitrasinovic; Gatineau
L’été 2016 by Rafaël Alin, Gatineau
L’été 2016 by Rafaël Alin, Gatineau
Dallaire à fleur rouge by Maria-Rosa Szychowska, Gatineau
Dallaire à fleur rouge (detail view) by Maria-Rosa Szychowska

Crossing the Ottawa River on the way to Gatineau are the disused industrial buildings on Chaudière Island. I took these photos a few years ago.

Chaudière Island
Chaudière Island

More Photos

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos

Three Questions

  1. Which artwork featured on this page do you like the best?
  2. How can street art benefit a community?
  3. Most of the murals I saw appear to have been sponsored by small businesses.This has resulted in some very attractive pieces (as the artists don’t need to hurriedly and surreptitiously complete their work under cover of darkness). However, this also means the themes and subjects of the art tend to be very safe. What can be done so that artists feel freer to deal with more controversial and.or less pleasant subject matter?

Art Challenge

Sketch a wall near your home, school or office. Design an artwork that would go on the wall and add it to your sketch.

~photos and text by


More Street Art Galleries

Street Art in Ottawa, Ontario
Street Art in Shoreditch London
Street Art in Shoreditch, London
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Vancouver, Canada
HKWALLS 2018: Part 1 (Hong Kong)
HKWALLS 2018: Part 2 (Hong Kong)
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Culture Saves Lives: Drum Circle & Art by Alexa Black

I shot this video while checking out a drop-in activity associated Culture Saves Lives, a non-profit group dedicated with trying to connect people, particularly marginalized indigenous people, with their culture. While walking past their building in Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside neighborhood. I was attracted by the chanting and drumming coming from within. I asked the guy standing in the doorway (the guy on the far right of the picture below) what was going on and he replied that it was an informal jam, that people were just there to hang out and that most of the guys were his family members and that I was welcome to come in.

Drum Circle at the Culture Saves Lives community center in Vancouver

Inside the room, —which functioned as an art gallery (The Window Community Art Shop), a performance space and simply a safe place to hang out—the walls were covered with paintings for sale, mainly by a self-taught artist, Alexa Black.

Bone Weaver: Mixed media art by Alexa Black

Alexa Black, an artist of Métis and Mestizo ancestry, usually works with mixed-media, combining oil painting and photography with elements of the natural world: bones, leather, antlers, flowers and feathers. She uses such materials to honor the natural world and its cycles. In nature, many of these element – bones, animal hides, antlers and feathers – also serve as a kind of protection. They can represent the strength and resilience of nature. However, there is also an element of fragility and impermanence.

Mixed media art by Alexa Black

There was a nice positive vibe at the centre, but my daughter wanted to move on to see other things, so I just took a few minutes of video and a couple of snapshots.

Go Further

Three Questions

  1. How do you feel about the mixed media works on this page?
  2. How would you interpret the first work of art, Bone Weaver? What message do you think the work sends?
  3. How can contemporary art, which is often concerned with exploring new techniques and breaking boundaries, revitalize traditional cultures?

Art Challenge

Create a mixed media work using materials from the natural world.


~video, photos and text by

artjouer

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Ottawa Art Gallery: A Visit to the OAG

The video and photos are from a trip to the Ottawa Art Gallery (oaggao.ca/ottawa-art-gallery) in the summer of 2018.

The full set of photos can be viewed here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmav9AMM

The Ottawa Art Gallery

As Ottawa is Canada’s capital, it is already home to large museums such as the National Gallery of Canada. To set itself apart, the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) focuses on artwork with a local or regional connection—works by local artists, works inspired by the city or region and works donated by local collectors.

The Ottawa Art Gallery is a small, non-profit organization founded in 1988 by a group of local artists and community leaders. It moved to new, greatly-expanded premises in April, 2018. The artwork is arranged thematically, so you can often find works with wildly contrasting styles next to each other. Here are some of the works featured in the video.

Max Deen (Waiting for the Toothfairy)

The video opens with British artist Max Deen’s mixed-media work Waiting for the Tooth Fairy.

Max Deen: Waiting for the Toothfairy (2009, mixed media)

This piece was inspired the artist’s experiences with brutal ice storm that hit Ottawa in 1998. While driving during the storm, he came across a fallen tree. He connected this image to memories of his relationship with his late mother, with the fallen tree on the mattress representing her absence and the area below the mattress (a space filled with toy trucks) representing childhood, a bright and playful place where one may be unaware of things going on outside that safe little zone.He discusses this piece in this video from the OAG

Next to Deen’s work was a portrait by Montreal-based artist and former Ottawa resident Eliza Griffiths;

Eliza Griffiths: Incitement (Kirk Douglas Pose) (2003, oil on canvas)

 

Isah Qumalu Sivurapi: Ijitualik

Scattered throughout the gallery are works by indigenous artists. This soapstone sculpture entitled Ijitualik (meaning One-Eyed Figure) is particularly striking.

Isah Qumalu Sivurapi: Ijitualik (1969, soapstone)

The artist, Isah Qumalu Sivurapi, is from the  community of Puvirnituq, on the northeast coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). Members of this small community of around 1200 people were encouraged to develop their artistic talents and are now well known for their Inuit sculptures and prints. The above artwork focuses on a mythological being, something that falls into the category of takushurnaituk—meaning ‘things never seen before’.

Another work dealing with the theme of mythological beings is Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau’s painting of Thunderbird, a powerful spirit capable of controlling the weather and influencing the destinies of people

Norval Morrisseu: Thunderbird (c. 1962, enamel and ink on paper)

 

The Group of Seven

The paintings in the next section of the video are from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. These works were donated by the descendants of an avid art collector in the city—Otto Jack Firestone.

Lawren Harris: Mount Thule, Bylot Island (oil on canvas)

Among the paintings on display were works by Group of Seven members such as A. Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris and A. J. Casson as well as their contemporaries such as Yvonne McKague Housser and Carl Schaefer. These highly influential Canadian landscape artists were inspired by Ontario’s rugged wilderness and rural tranquility and by the icy majesty of the Far North. Together, the artists helped establish an identifiably Canadian painting style during the 1920s and 1930s.

A. Y. Jackson: Hills, Lake Superior (1922, oil on canvas). Ottawa Art Gallery

Franklin Carmichael: The Nickel Belt (1928, oil on canvas)

A. J. Casson: Parry Sound (1927, oil on canvas)

Yvonne McKague Housser: High Water, Bancroft (1933, oil on canvas)

 

Jack Shadbolt (Mountain Summer) & Alfred Pellan (Automne)

I love the vibrant colors and energetic composition of these paintings by Vancouver-based artist Jack Shadbolt and Alfred Pellan, an important figure in Quebecois art. In Shabolt’s painting Mountain Summer, the brownish hues of the mountain rocks are nearly lost amidst the riotous colors of flowers and butterflies—an explosion of life during the short, but intense Canadian summer.

Jack Shadbolt: Mountain Summer (1974, latex, ink, wax crayon on rag paper)

Alfred Pellan’s ode to fall is more abstract, evoking the colors and energy of the harvest season and its autumn leaves.

Alfred Pellan: Automne (1959, oil on panel)

 

Representations of Geography by Leslie Reid, Meredith Snider,  Barry Ace, Jenny McMaster, Alexander Laquerre & Jason St-Laurent

Many Canadian artists are inspired by the country’s landscapes and geography. Perhaps this is because the country is so massive and much of the national identity is tied to the land—the coasts, the prairies, the Rockies, the Arctic, the Canadian Shield and other prominent geographical features.

Leslie Reid’s photo collage Flight Line: Erasure pays homage to her father and to the land. The work is composed of images of the Ottawa region and of the Far North that were taken from the air and on the ground between 1930 and 2017. Many of the aerial photos were taken by the artist’s father, whose work with the Royal Canadian Air Force. involved mapping northern regions of the country as part of government plans to develop those regions. All these things are in the photos—aerial mapping, Northern communities, government offices and views of the city.

Leslie Reid: Flight Line: Erasure (2017, digital prints on aluminum)

Leslie Reid: Flight Line: Erasure (detail view, 2017, digital prints on aluminum)

Meredith Snider’s painting Mind Map Ottawa: Five Cardinal Points represents the artist’s memories of the routes she took during a series of drives from downtown Ottawa. She traveled approximately 100 kilometers in each direction (North, South, East and West).

Meredith Snider: Mind Map Ottawa: Five Cardinal Points (2013, graphite and ink on paper, Stonehenge paper hand-sewn with thread).

Barry Ace’s mixed media works are honor blankets for each of the five Great Lakes (only three are shown in the photo).

Barry Ace: three of a series of five artworks depicting the great lakes: Gichi-zaaga’igan (Big Lake: Lake Ontario), Gichi-aazhoogami-gichigami (Great Crosswater Sea: Lake Huron) and Anishinaabewi-gichigami (Anishinaabeg Sea: Lake Superior). (2016, mixed media)

The works are created from Hudson’s Bay blankets, which have a long history in Canada and were often used by the Hudson’s Bay Company when trading with indigenous fur trappers. Thus, as heritage symbols, they are complicated—they are associated with the settling of the nation as well as with 19th century colonialism and capitalism. You can read this Mental Floss article for more information: A Brief History of Canada’s Iconic Hudson’s Bay Blanket

The decorations on the blanket are made from things like:

  • traditional materials like horse hair;
  • silver dollars (the design of the coins honor indigenous people, but the coins can also represent commercial power and nation-building, things which helped marginalize these same people )
  • electronic components like diodes, resistors and and microchips, which represent technology—technology that can help preserve indigenous cultures and can also erode them.

Barry Ace: detail view of Anishinaabewi-gichigami (Anishinaabeg Sea: Lake Superior) (2016, mixed media: Hudson’s Bay blanket, velvet beads, capacitors, resistors, LEDs, microchips, horse hair, silver dollars, pewter, copper wire, mountain climbing rope).

Thus, the blankets not only represent the Great Lakes, but also the forces (trade, colonialism, capitalism, nation-building and technology) that have buffeted indigenous cultures in Canada. Barry Ace discusses his work and creative processes in this video from the OAG:

Local artist Jenny McMaster has produced a series of mixed-media maps of nearby areas. The map below shows the town of Almonte. You can see more of her work at her website: jennymcmaster.typepad.com

Jenny McMaster: In the Neighbourhood (2016, mixed media: handmade paper, pulp painting and emboidery)

In the silkscreen print shown below, Alexander Laquerre has created the shape of each local Ottawa-Gatineau neighborhood from its name.

Alexander Laquerre: Ottawa-Gatineau Neighbourhoods Map, 3rd edition (silkscreen print). Ottawa Art Gallery

Laquerre also creates drawings celebrating Ottawa’s iconic architecture, and his drawings of the Parliament Buildings, Alexandra Bridge and the Chateau Laurier appear near the end of the video.

Jason St-Laurent’s sculpture 196 Nations in Order of Size is exactly what the title says. Blocks representing each member country in the United Nations are stacked on top of one another from the floor to the ceiling.

Jason St-Laurent: 196 Nations in Order of Size (2018, mixed media). Ottawa Art Gallery

Interestingly, the blocks can be removed and re-arranged just in case countries break apart, grow or cease to exist.

Jason St-Laurent: 196 Nations in Order of Size (2018, mixed media)

 

World War II

On this wall is a selection of paintings from the Second World War, a significant event in the development of Canada’s national identity.

Paintings of the Second World War by (clockwise from top left) Robert Hyndman, Tom Wood, Pegi Nicol Macleod, Charles Anthony Law, Harold Beament and Elizabeth Harrison

Robert Hyndman: Flight Lieutenant C.F. Schaefer (1945, oil on canvas)

Harold Beament: Embarking Casualties on D-Day, HMCS Pince David (1944, oil on canvas)

 

Darker Themes: Works by Carl Stewart, Janet Kaponicin & Bozica Radjenovic

Some of the works in the Ottawa Art Gallery have darker stories behind them. Carl Stewart’s ,mixed media work Nice Shoes, F***** (the asterisks are mine) is a memorial for Alain Brousseau, a  man who was killed in a homophobic hate crime when he was thrown off the Alexandra Bridge, which spans the Ottawa River. The length of the textile—80 metres—is the distance he fell. The case is described in this article: Death by hate: The life, power and symbolism of Alain Brosseau

Carl Stewart: Nice Shoes Fa**** (1996, woven wool thread and lurex). Ottawa Art Gallery

Janet Kaponicin’s Tragic History behind the Parliament Building deals with a similar kind of senseless murder, with the events of the two cases being around 150 years and several hundred meters apart.  This artwork is about a the story of a teen Algonquin girl murdered by British soldiers behind Parliament Hill.

Janet Kaponicin: Tragic History behind the Parliament Building (2004, acrylic and birchbark collage on canvas)

The story is described in this article: Death on the Hill: An Algonquin artist’s 30-year struggle to preserve the memory of a Parliament Hill tragedy

Bozica Radjenovic’s mixed media piece Included/Excluded looks quite playful, but the red knitted wearable sculpture represents conflict and bloodshed, likely inspired by the artist’s experiences during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. To me, the red balls of yarn spilling out from the suit emphasize the frailty of the human body..

Bozica Radjenovic: Included/Excluded (2018, red knitted wearable sculpture with balls of wool)

 

The Queen

Let’s end with Stefan St-Laurent’s not-quite-life-sized sculpted caricature of Queen Elizabeth II, which is situated at the entrance to the Ottawa Art Gallery. It strikes a wonderful balance between being respectful and being fun.

Sculpture of Queen Elizabeth by Stefan St-Laurent

The gallery is relatively small but is conveniently located behind the Rideau Centre and the admission is free. If you are in town and are interested in art, be sure to check it out.

About the Video

The video footage and photos were shot with a FUJIFILM X100T camera. The two songs features in the video are from my free background music series:

he lovely first song is Somewhere Deep in the Sea by Jessica Yip, I recorded that and the song is part of my Free Background music series (a collection of songs that you can use for free for non-commercial purposes). Information about the song and download links are on my website: longzijun.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/free-background-music-38

The short jazz outro is my own work and can be found on this page: longzijun.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/backing-tracks-for-improvisation-and-solos

 

Go Further: Website

Three Questions

  1. Which of the paintings or sculptures are most attractive to you? Why?
  2. How can art serve to help create a feeling of belonging to a particular city, region or country?
  3. Who would you say are the artists who best represent your country? Explain your answer.

Art Challenge

Create a work  painting, drawing, sketch, sculpture or mixed media piece   that represents your city or neighborhood.


~video, photos and text by

artjouer

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