A mural to celebrate

417 Mural

Photo: Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Spector, the two artists responsible for beautifying the 417 underpass on the north end of Main Street. Photo by Chris Bricker, City of Ottawa

By Phyllis Odenbach Sutton

A wonderful new piece of art has emerged from the grey walls in the underpass on Main Street over the last several months. I believe many of us stopped to watch the artists, Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Spector, at work and marvelled at the mural details as they appeared.

Some of you may already know, although neither artist currently lives in Ottawa, both have a connection to the nation’s capital.

Bergeron is a graduate of Carleton University and Spector spent several years at Lady Evelyn Alternative School. Part of their proposal involved a workshop for some of the students at Lady Evelyn.

Their plan was to focus on the heritage of our community and they sought additional input from Old Ottawa East (OOE) residents during the April community association meeting. Some of the ideas mentioned at the meeting included the neighbourhood’s previous use as farmland and gardens, the importance of Sustainable Living Ottawa East (SLOE) to our community, and residents’ enjoyment of outdoor activities due to our proximity to the Rideau Canal and Rideau River.

The artists noted their appreciation for our input and indicated they learned a lot about the community; they also enjoyed the freedom to interpret the community feedback in their own way.

Bergeron provided the following contextual description of the project to me after the mural was complete:

“Accord is a mural project whose content emerged from our conversations with OOE community members and from the architectural history and future of the area.

Through the consultation process, we heard OOE described as a garden community and learned how the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal are the defining geographic elements of this part of the city. The mural along the west wall uses plant and flower imagery, while the east wall’s mural takes the shape of a wave.

The flowers and plants are embedded in cubes that reflect the future development of this garden community. The windows on the sides of the cube contain patterns taken from the leaded glass windows at St. Paul’s Pontifical School, as well as many of the older houses in the neighbourhood. On the east wall, the shape patterns are taken from the steep roofs found throughout the neighbourhood. Like OOE itself, Accord employs both geometric and organic shapes to create harmonious images that reflect their environment and the community’s hopes for sustainable development that finds balance with the landscape.

Both murals also prominently feature the negative space of the bridge’s bare wall as part of their design. This intentional choice includes the bridge as part of the mural and showcases its architecture and the importance of bridges to connecting this community with those around it.”

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Filed in: Culture, FP, Front Page

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