Earlier in Summer 2020, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG), located in Kitchener, Canada, had an incredible creative vision: they wanted to contribute to the beautification of downtown Kitchener by installing multiple, large-scale, print reproductions of artworks across selected buildings. They would call their initiative ART PROJECT 2020.
To help bring their vision to life, the art gallery teamed up with the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Association (BIA) to choose 12 artworks by different local artists. The artworks would be printed and hung as enormous mural installations across 12 buildings in downtown Kitchener.
Fortunately, the Executive Director of the KWAG, invited us to be one of those 12 artists, and we were thrilled to say yes!
For our concept, we took inspiration from our West Coast Wildlife series; a collection of works that we completed in 2015. We love birds, and thought it’d be absolutely lovely to celebrate one of Canada’s most common owl species, the Great-Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), for ART PROJECT 2020.
We thought this design concept looked like a camouflaged owl sitting ominously inside a hole in the building staring out at you. We like how the colours of the artwork loosely match that of the building's exterior, and how the proportions of the artwork is similar to the nearby windows.
The finished result.
A large mural is placed on a frame prior to being hung on a wall at the Vidyard building on Queen Street in Kitchener, Friday. Installation images above are courtesy of MATHEW MCCARTHY / WATERLOO REGION RECORD.
The following is an excerpt taken from the article New mural project takes flight in downtown Kitchener by Terry Pender, the Waterloo Region-based reporter who focuses on arts and entertainment for The Record.
Terry explains the ART PROJECT 2020 in greater detail:
The Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Association and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery collaborated on the art project. Talks on the project started in May.
The association used the funds saved by the cancellation of festivals and events because of the pandemic to create a new art walk through downtown, said Linda Jutzi, the association’s executive director. Special, custom-sized frames will be bolted to the outside walls of the selected buildings. The large reproductions slide into the metal frames that hold them flat.
The artworks are reproduced on a vinyl-like fabric. Different artists will be chosen every year, and the reproductions in the frames will change, Jutzi said. This is Phase 1 and we have invested about $100,000. It is a great way to support the arts, bring people downtown for physically distanced strolls and ultimately generate some business for merchants battered by months of low and nonexistent sales.
An outdoor art walk is perfect for those who are not comfortable going inside galleries, museums or restaurants. They can grab a coffee and wander to look at the art at their own pace. The large reproductions being installed now, the existing murals and new murals expected soon will all be included in a booklet for the self-guided art walk. The booklet should be ready in early September.
“Everyone on my team was right on it — with COVID and everything it was just a bright light in a dark space,” said Shirley Madill, the gallery’s executive director.
Thank you to the KWAG and the Downtown Kitchener BIA teams for all of their work in bringing this project to life!
If you'd like to see this Great-Horned Owl mural in person, it's located on the backside of Vidyard, 8 Queen St. North, in downtown Kitchener, Ontario and will be on display for the summer of 2020 and beyond.
Thanks for looking!