Main Street Mural Project

The successful artists have been chosen!

The City received 202 submissions from applicants all over the world for the Main Street Mural Project. Twelve applicants were shortlisted and four finalists have been selected to enhance sites along Wilson Street in Downtown Guelph.

Site A: Market side wall awarded to Pellvetica

Sandy and Steve Pell, a husband and wife duo from Kitchener, were awarded the commission for the side wall beside the Guelph Farmers’ Market. Their design is a detailed monarch butterfly – a nod to Guelph’s nickname, the Royal City, and a tribute to pollinators.

Why a monarch? While some endangered species have grabbed global attention, the decreasing population of the monarch butterfly has only recently gained attention. Today in Ontario, monarchs have reached the “special concern” status. “Special Concern” means the species lives in the wild, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats. This speaks directly to the theme of Robert Cram and Eldon Garnet’s upcoming public art installation at the corner of Wilson and Gordon Streets, that, “nature is precarious, and that without stewardship, it is in jeopardy.”

Pellvetica’s artwork is built on a balanced, and often symmetrical, grid foundation. Each of the shapes used are inspired by the natural repetition of patterns found in nature’s most beautiful cellular structures and textures.

The artwork itself will be painted using sharp, black line work that will be highlighted by bright white accents. A vivid orange copper metallic paint will be used throughout to further draw attention to the piece since the reflectivity of the paint will naturally bounce sunlight. This colour structure will also play off the polished bronze deer featured in the installation by Cram and Garnet.

A natural selfie site, visitors will be encouraged to pose in front of the butterfly wings and share their experience using the hashtag #royalcitywings.

Site B: Wooden inlet (old fire door) on west side of City Hall awarded to Cheka Creative Inc. (Alex Kwong and Sergey Ryutin)

Alex Kwong and Sergey Ryutin from Calgary were awarded the commission for the wooden inlet on the side of City Hall. The artwork planned for this designated heritage site will provide a visual connection of the past and future. A monochromatic background consisting of Guelph’s founder, John Galt, and the historic Basilica on the hill give the viewer a glimpse of the past, while the young fawn provides a connection to the upcoming public art installation by Robert Cram and Eldon Garnet, and Guelph’s future.

As the story goes, Galt founded Guelph on St. George’s Day, April 23, 1827 with the ceremonial felling of a large maple tree. This is represented by the array of maple leaves flowing the length of the mural. The fawn, also a symbol of growth and empowerment, is enveloped by the leaves, further emphasizing connection between the past and present.

In consideration of the heritage site on which the artwork will be installed, Cheka’s goal was to create a visually compelling piece that complements the building both in subject matter and colour scheme. Through the use of warm greys and beige tones, they’ve developed a design that is in harmony with the surrounding architecture.

The “map” overlay of Guelph’s main roads further activates the theme of connection in this piece.

Site C: Underpass wall – City Hall/Guelph Farmers’ Market side awarded to Kenneth Lavallee

Lavallee, a Métis artist from Winnipeg, was awarded the east underpass wall on the Guelph Farmers’ Market side. His design, entitled Cultivation, was inspired by his research of the history of Guelph, specifically the traditional territories of the Attawandaron whose land was described as a ‘community of longhouses surrounded by fields of corn.’ The Attawandaron also referred to themselves as the Chonnonton — “the people of the deer,” or more accurately, “keepers of the deer” — referring to their practice of herding deer into pens, connecting Lavallee’s mural to Cram and Garnet’s installation and Cheka Creative’s mural on the side of City Hall.

Lavallee’s mural uses a simplified graphic style inspired by pictograms, essential for effective idea transmission in a short span of time. The mural also employs universal themes such as balance, order, scale and harmony.

Starting from the left we see an abstracted cornfield in a sea of green, honouring a healthy and productive earth/land, which slowly ascends and grows tall toward the centre, closest to the sun. The vivid colours and the ascending and descending nature of the design is meant to stimulate the eye and the imagination, to almost animate itself with each pass by.

The right half of the mural represents cycles of time, seasons and days of the week, which continuously rotate like clockwork around the centre. The blue counters the green of the earth, representing and honouring water and the nearby rivers. The human hands, mirroring each other, emphasise the constant physical work and cooperation required for cultivating the land.

While simple in design, Lavallee wants the general message of the mural to describe that through hard work and effort, good results will happen – like the old adage says, “you reap what you sow.”

Site D: Underpass wall – Parkade side awarded to Emmanuel Jarus

Jarus, a Toronto artist, was awarded the fourth site on the west underpass wall. Jarus’ design features a variety of birds, creating movement across a vivid blue sky.

Bird watching brings people together in a spirit of enthusiasm and appreciation of nature. By featuring a variety of birds, Jarus’ artwork recognizes the diversity in Guelph and emphasizes the importance of inclusion.

Jarus was inspired by Ted Fullerton’s bird sculptures in Market Square and Guelph Central Station and as well as Wilson Street’s role as a centre point of travel, energized by constant movement. He hopes to encourage the fundamental human aspiration to move freely and dream greatly through this installation.

Whether it’s the peregrine falcon that often perches atop Tricar’s building at the corner of Macdonell Street or your everyday black-capped chickadee, Jarus will work with local community bird watching groups to identify local birds to inform the final artwork.

Background

The City of Guelph has received one-time funding from Ontario’s Main Street Revitalization Initiative to support and benefit rejuvenation, redevelopment, renovations and enhancements to revitalize main streets.

As directed by City Council, funding will be implemented through a competitive applications process to develop murals at various locations, specifically for the purpose of animating public spaces that support downtown tourism destinations.

All applications were reviewed and evaluated by the City’s Council-appointed Public Art Advisory Committee. City staff were involved as non-voting members.

This is Phase one of the funding implementation.