Art and the City
NOTE: With changes happening rapidly due to COVID19 we recommend that you contact the sites before visiting to make sure they are still open.
Arts and culture make a considerable and necessary contribution to the well-being of a community. One way to measure the vibrancy of a city is to look at its investment in the arts. The way a city incorporates public art into the planning, building and design of new and existing developments underlines the importance of creative pursuits that bring people together and communicate a variety of individual, urban experiences.
Vintage Postcards and the Evolution of a Community…
As part of Burlington’s strategy of community building through arts and culture to create an engaging city, it is important to identify opportunities that build active, creative neighbourhoods. One way that Burlington is working toward enhancing its emerging arts and cultural scene is by embracing the talent of local artists by providing them with opportunities to develop their skills and showcase their work in public spaces throughout the city.
With this in mind, we are excited to unveil two new murals as part of this year’s Burlington Mural Project over the coming weeks. The Burlington Mural Project is an initiative of the city’s public art program and is designed to tell local stories using local artists. The program increases artist participation in the city’s public art program, supports the growing arts community through free professional development and access to paid commissions, provides opportunities to artists working at various career levels in a variety of mediums, and engages residents in the creative process through mural site selection and community storytelling. This year’s awarded artists include Burlington’s Jason Diesbourg and Elena Espinoza. Both murals will be unveiled in early December with a video launch, but I recommend grabbing a hot chocolate and getting out to experience them in person!
A Love Letter to the Waterfront…
Jason Diesbourg is an illustrator with expertise in graphic design and multimedia. Jason pretty much grew up in the movie theater and has always admired great cinematic compositions. As a person with many interests, not only does Jason love movies, he appreciates impressive architecture and landscapes. Jason is a storyteller and always looks for the best way to tell a visual story whether it be with a pencil, a computer or a camera. Currently Jason and his wife run a design studio, JayCat Creative, in Burlington, which specializes in graphic illustrations.
Concept sketch detail of Diesbourg’s design.
Location: Waterfront parking garage.
Medium: Digital illustration on a banner.
Using the style of vintage poster art, Jason created his design as a love letter to Burlington’s waterfront. Diesbourg’s design illustrates the many layers of the waterfront. Sit on a patio at a local restaurant to enjoy a drink and let your mind wander across the street. Past the slow moving cars, the lush trees call out begging to look beyond. Waiting is a beautiful park that transforms itself into a place for festivals, kit flying, or just a spot to take a nap under a tree. All this is next to the glistening waters of Lake Ontario. Boats relax and birds dance through the sky enjoying the summer’s day in front of the impressive backdrop of the Skyway Bridge.
The Evolution of a Neighbourhood…
In 1981, Elena Espinoza immigrated to Canada from El Salvador. She spent most of her childhood life living in London, Ontario where her passion for art and nature began. An OCAD alumnus since 1998, Elena has participated in art exhibitions in Southwestern Ontario, received an Entrepreneur Award from MicroSkills in 2008, and has taught art programs at the Art Gallery of Burlington over the past few years. Her main body of work includes portable indoor murals that focus on Canadian community themes. Her method of painting captures the energy, colours and textures of her subject matter through the use of generous amounts of acrylic paint on canvas.
Concept sketch detail of Espinoza’s design.
Location: Tansley Woods Community Centre.
Medium: Acrylic paint and mixed media on panel.
Inspired by the history of the original Tansley neighbourhood, Elena incorporates a variety of archival images of early Burlington life into her design. This includes images of livestock including a horse – a symbol of early transportation and farming aid, wheat – one of the most important cultivated crops in the early 1800’s, and a picture of Joseph Tansley – the well known postmaster for which the original community of Tansley was named. These images are paired with contemporary images of life in Burlington to show the evolution of the community over time. Taking inspiration from the architectural elements of the Tansley Woods Community Centre, a series of shapes and images inspired by the building are also found in the mural. This reference to the building celebrates the important role the community centre plays in the lives of many Burlington residents today.
When you are looking for an adventure on a sunny day, there is no better way to take in Burlington arts and culture (and get to know the city in the process) than by exploring Burlington’s public art collection.
Learn more about Burlington’s public art program and get the inside scoop on current projects, calls for artists, planning and policy, and more importantly learn about opportunities to participate and get involved!
*Editors Note: You can also pick up your copy of the Burlington Public Art Map at our visitor centre (414 Locust St.)
Guest Writers: Adam Belovari with contributions from Jason Diesbourg and Elena Espinoza.