Wall call and all: a community art project

HELP - 2016 public art site

In January I met with Wendy Trusler to discuss Peterborough’s public art plans.

Trusler is the public art coordinator for the city’s Public Art Program. During my interview she was enthusiastic about the city and the Downtown Business Improvement Association’s commitment to a multi-year mural project.

“Wall Call and All” is the name of this project. At the end of January, landlords in the downtown core submitted photographs and specs for potential mural space. Seventeen landlords expressed interest and generated a total of 22 possible sites.

The jury, composed of “community members with expertise in contemporary art, architecture, design, history and cultural tourism” evaluated the spaces.

On March 10, the jury then submitted their results and Peterborough’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee selected two sites for 2016 and 2017.

The site for development in 2016 is Highway Enforcement Legal Protection (HELP), located at 114 Simcoe St, on the corner of Queen Street.

This building has a large wall facing directly onto Queen Street. Pedestrians and cyclists on their way to and from Millennium Park, as well as transit patrons on the Ashburnham line will easily see the mural. Both the large canvas and the high traffic ensure that HELP will be a great first site.

The 2017 site is the Youth Emergency Shelter (YES), which opened in 2002. The building itself has a unique history. It might be the second brick house built in the city.

The year is likely around 1845 and Dr. Hay first occupied it. The house changed hands for decades, but continued to serve some sort of communal or medical purpose.

Certainly the teens at the shelter will see the mural regularly. But this old house on Brock Street is also directly across from Freshco, a frequently visited locale in Peterborough’s downtown.

Additionally, many other people see the mural on a day-to-day basis: the parking lot next to YES is full on week days; a path besides YES leads from Brock Street to St. Paul’s Presbyterian on Murray Street; and a huge apartment building is adjacent to the shelter.

The mural will presumably go on the east wall facing the parking lot. This spot appears to be a wonderful space for art and the Brock Street parking lot may be an excellent place for events.

Trusler explained that the jury’s conversation about sites went from examining two-dimensional “surfaces to a discussion of how a mural could impact the space around the site, both as a catalyst for further urban renewal and bridge to other activity.”

On this note, she observed that the small HELP building often goes unnoticed.

“It’s not difficult to imagine how, as a public art site, it is going to change that entire neighbourhood,” she continued.

Trusler mentioned that these murals would be on display for a period between four and six years. The other proposed sites may also be used for future projects. In the recent “Wall Call” media release, Trusler and associates were “impressed by the deep commitment to public art demonstrated by the community’s participation.”

The next step is a call for artists. The call will be circulated at the end of March. Trusler mentioned that artists in Peterborough and surrounding regions such as Durham, Halliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Hastings, Prince Edward County, Lennox, Addington and Frontenac are encouraged to submit.

For more information about the Public Art Program visit peterboroughdbia.com/news/wall-call-all.

About Troy Bordun 61 Articles
I’m a recent graduate of the Cultural Studies PhD program. My research includes contemporary film, film theory, and the history of moving-image pornography. In addition to writing for Arthur, this semester I’m teaching in the Cultural Studies department (Intro to Integrated Arts) and Continuing Education (Writing Short Film Scripts). I also work at the Trend (come say hi!), among other small jobs as they come up.