Jimson smiling

This summer Artspace issued a call-out to local artists for their Wrap the Bus project. First Nations artist Jimson Bowler’s painting was chosen and on Tuesday, November 12 the production will bring a new form of art to the city of Peterborough.

Bowler’s painting was photographed and adapted using vinyl sticker to fit the exterior of a city bus. The installation is named Big Loon Portage (2013) and the bus will run for six months.

jimson painting captured

“What we aim to do is bring an art form into a transitory, third dimensional presence,” says Artspace Director Fynn Leitch. “The project itself was so specific. It was a challenge choosing the right kind of piece.”

Bowler’s style explores traditional landscape depictions with painting over the image, bringing in his own play on Native traditions, transportation, and community. By using the medium of community transportation and images symbolizing Peterborough history, such as the canoe and the elders watching over the community, Bowler’s painting was chosen to bring this project to life.

“I know of no other stronger image in this town than the canoe, or a better way to honour the people than together,” says Jimson Bowler.

The painting challenges classic depiction of colonial landscape representation by incorporating traditional Native storytelling elements in contrast.

“The medicine wheel, which is yellow, is an important element to our way of storytelling,” Bowler comments on his piece, “[Just] as the muskrat and the seasons, and our ancestors who tell us the stories and watch over us are depicted in the orange sun.”

Using bold colours and harmonious images, such as a red canoe on the river filled with people, the bus should be as fresh as the artist’s style itself. Bowler’s painting is part of a series he has done, called Muskrat Love, which was displayed at The Peterborough Art Gallery this past summer.

The series connects to the painting and Bowler feels it will become a more permanent part of Peterborough history, as it really is telling a story.

“The seasons can be seen represented in all the paintings, so they are all connected in a way. It’s like a mural, so it’s coming to life in different parts and I am honoured to have my art become a part of this.”

The project was an idea that had been around in the City of Peterborough for a few years, Leitch tells Arthur. “Ken Doherty, the director of Community Services of Peterborough, had this project on his radar and it was clear from our discussions that Artspace would be a good organization to carry it out.”

The public will get to enjoy Bowler’s artwork as the bus rides around town, while challenging the very form of art itself.

jimson painting