Discover Burlington Ontario

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Burlington Public Art

by Linda Cvetanovic

Over the last year we have had the opportunity to work with our Mayor, Rick Goldring, as he wrote several blogs for us and shared some of his favourite seasonal things to see and do.  Today, we had the pleasure of joining Mayor Goldring and touring some of the amazing  public art that adorns the parks and open spaces across our city.   Until today, I hadn’t spend a lot of time exploring the public art collection across the city.  Of course, I was familiar with some of the pieces such as the Lady of the Lake or the Central Park Labyrinth but beyond that I was woefully unaware.  If any of you have read my previous posts on exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Burlington, you know that even though I like art, I feel a bit intimidated when visiting a gallery or speaking to an artist about their work.  For me, the wonderful thing about public art is that you enjoy it in a non-traditional setting, no one is there to judge your reactions or even worse ask you a question about it (okay maybe that’s just me), it’s yours to enjoy how and when you want.

I hope that these photos will inspire you to explore Burlington’s public art (did you know there are 75 pieces across the city?)  To find out more about them, visit the public art webpage.

Our first stop took us to King’s Road in Aldershot where Escarpment Evolution by Judy Mayer-Grieve is located.  I really loved how she incorporated the Jefferson Salamander into the piece.  For those not familiar with this area, the city closes a portion of King’s Road annually to allow safe passage for the Jefferson Salamanders during its spring migration.  I shared a close up of this portion of the mural on our Instagram page

but you can see the whole mural (and the Mayor) below …

burlington public art escarpment

Our second stop was at Amherst Park to view Furled Fronds by Teresa Seaton, this was one that I was anxious to see as I’ve always been fascinated by stained glass.   This piece fits in perfectly along the community garden and within the park setting.

One great part about tagging along with the Mayor is that you get to see a different side of him.  After we had visited this piece and taken all our photos, we started back to the car and I turned around the find that the Mayor had meandered over to talk to a family and was chatting casually with them and their young daughter.  He could have easily darted back to the car and been on his way but he really wanted to connect with the people he serves, I noticed this several times throughout the morning and it was nice to see the person behind the office of Mayor.

Furled Fronds

Furled Fronds

Heading north, we went to Norton Park, across from Haber Recreation Centre.  Walking into the Unknown Tupiq is a two sided work of art that features the works of student artists led by artist collective PA System (Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson). Be sure to look closely when viewing this piece – you never know what you might find.

Here are some additional shots of this work… you can see the part of the mural we posted on instagram in the picture on the left.

burlington public art walking 2 burlington public art walking

Some residents may remember the days when apple orchards were commonplace in the aptly named Orchard Park.  Abundant Joy  by Tamara Kwapich is the mural that adorns a wall in the park and at first glance it is a fitting tribute to the history of the area but when you get closer and look deeper you will notice that it is a three dimensional work.  The apples in the mural are raised and each one has the face of a Burlington resident in it.

I love the caption in this post …. as Mayor Golding was viewing this he shared, “What I like about public art is it creates a sense of place and distinguishes neighbourhoods” he expanded that to say, “We place art on the walls of our homes to personalize it, add character and foster conversation. The same can be said of public art in a community. Burlington’s Public Art program is focused on enhancing the quality of life in our city through the rich context of the arts. The program strives to bring artwork by both established and emerging artists to the city centre and the neighbourhoods throughout Burlington. There is something wonderful about visiting a place in Burlington – whether it is a community garden, park or even an intersection – and encountering a piece of public art.  It enriches our community and adds to the quality of life in our city.” ….Mayor Goldring, we agree!

burlington public art abundant joy

Can you see the faces in the apples?

Not all art has the same canvas.  As we found with Unity by Hannah Sell and Liam Racine, sometimes art takes something unattractive and makes it something special.

and we can’t blame the Mayor for taking a minute to enjoy the views from the park behind it….

burlington public art - views

One of the projects we are very excited to see completed is the opening of Freeman Station in 2017.  Today we stopped by to view the mural Freeman Station by Claire Hall which depicts the rich history of this Burlington station. We also had the good fortune to be there while some of the many volunteers were on site working on the restoration so we got a peek inside (it probably helped that the Mayor was with us).  Mark your calendars for July 1, 2017 when this site will open to the public. In the meantime you can enjoy the exterior and its beautiful artwork.  The sun was not our friend as we tried to capture this mural so the post below is a portion of the full artwork.

Our last stop was close to home, Spiral Stela by Peter Powning sits outside the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (right next door to our visitor centre). The piece is particularly of interest as it includes not only the artist’s vision but the involvement of the community in providing objects for producing the bronze relief.

This is also fun to photograph, depending on the sky and sunlight you can get a very cool capture with the reflecting background of the Centre.

With that our tour came to an end but there is still lots of Burlington public art to explore.  I had a great time (who doesn’t love viewing art on a warm fall day) and I really wanted to ask Mayor Goldring which piece was his favourite but that’s probably like asking a parent which is their favourite child so instead I asked, “What artwork hangs on your office wall?”  ….


“I have many pieces of art in the Mayor’s Office, including work done by my wife, Cheryl, and of course our home has many pieces, as well.  My favourite piece is a painting that Cheryl did of the Brant Street Pier. The pier was such a contentious issue and now it has become an iconic image that many people enjoy walking on and taking pictures of.”

We can’t wait to head out again this winter with the Mayor for another “instatour” … what do you think we should do/visit?






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