Owen Sound Artwalk! By The Numbers

June 18, 2018

Owen Sound ArtWalk CMHA mural painting


“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

I love that my work gives me the opportunity to paint for folks. Helping people “get their creative on” with my Art Nights has proven even more rewarding, so when I was asked to get involved in the inaugural Owen Sound ArtWalk!, I knew this was something I wanted to carve time out to do.

I think the easiest way to explain the concept is by the numbers:

  • 8 mural canvases 5-feet across, manufactured right here in Owen Sound; seven of which will depict an historic Owen Sound scene or building: the harbour, Harrison Park Inn, City Hall, the old Post Office, CP Rail Station (now Mudtown Station), the Library, and the Farmers’ Market.
  • 7 local galleries displaying community-created art and offering arts programming June 23: Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op, Santa Fe Gallery, Grey Gallery, Santa Fe Gallery, Intersections WOOD Studio & Gallery, Gallery de Boer and the Tom Thomson Gallery.
  • 4 awesome sponsors: Upper Canada Stretchers and sister company Upper Canada CNC Studio, Grey Bruce MOSAIC magazine, Georgian Bay Arts Conservation
  • 3 community mural sessions with painters from Canadian Mental Health Association, Community Living Owen Sound & District and Reach Centre Grey Bruce.
  • 1 live community mural painting on the last of our 8 canvases, at Georgian Shores United Church during the Multicultural Arts Festival on Saturday June 23.

Maryann Thomas at the Ginger Press has done a bang-up job of organizing the exhibition of the murals in each of the above-mentioned galleries. Miranda Miller put together these community group painting sessions, and we’ve had a great time getting inspiring our painters to give it a whirl on a large canvas.

There’s really nothing so freeing as being given a palette and brush and told to go nuts, is there? At each session, I shared a few painting techniques with our artists but for the most part, they had free rein to paint to their heart’s content.


Upper Canada Stretchers manufacturing facility


And as for me, well… I was a kid in a candy store at the Upper Canada Stretchers & CNC Studiomanufacturing facility. Owner Bob Nadon invited me up to see where the magic happens, and it blew me away that we have companies like this largely operating under the radar right here in Owen Sound.

These guys are doing canvases and art supports as big as 30 feet across, in every shape you could imagine, and shipping them all over Canada and the US. It was a bit of a kid-in-a-candy-store experience for me… imagine having a 30’ canvas to mess with! Aside from a small sign at the end of their laneway across from Tenneco, you’d never know they were there.

And that’s the real beauty of the Owen Sound arts community, isn’t it? We’re chock-full of hidden gems and undiscovered talent around here–the diversity and quality of our Artists’ Co-op is a testament to that.

It was great to see our community group artists open up over the course of each painting session and really get into it. In each group, we had a few people who initially hung back.

“I’m not really any good at painting.”

“I can’t draw, I’ll just watch.”

“I’ll just ruin it.”


Mural painting at Community Mental Health Association


We intentionally chose impressionism and abstract painting techniques as the basis for each mural session. As I told our painters, “You can’t break it.” And sure enough, as we worked away adding layers and new colours and trying out different brushes, more people joined in.

Inhibitions fell away.

Fears and worries were pushed off to the side.

Brush strokes became bigger, bolder. Conversation lighter. Smiles freer.

Of course, you can’t have a proper art party without allowing for a wee bit of shenanigans. At Community Living, a few of our artists got into painting the scenes from their t-shirts on smaller canvases we’d brought for practicing the painting techniques.


Community artworks created as part of ArtWalk


I present to you: John Cena!

So you can add to our ‘ArtWalk! by the numbers’ figures above:

  • 20+ community members inspired to paint
  • 6+ hours of collaborative painting
  • 1 wrestling legend brought to life by what might be his biggest fan

In the coming week, I’ll be layering stencils over each of our murals and creating the historic Owen Sound scenes mentioned above. I hope you’ll join us Saturday June 23rd to see what ArtWalk! is all about. Come by the downtown venues hosting our community-created murals and check out the programming each gallery is offering.

Swing by the Multicultural Arts Festival and try your own hand at mural painting… you can’t break it! And you’ll be amazed at what a group of people given permission to just give it a go can create.

Here are the most important numbers of all: June 23, 10am-4pm

See you at ArtWalk!

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