Art Blooms On Boyle Street
Major projects in the works for the summer months
The Boyle Street community’s urban renewal is underway, and art is going to be a big part of it. Three big projects are beginning over the next few months.
In July, the Edmonton Arts Council, in cooperation with the City of Edmonton and supported by the Boyle Street Community League, is presenting a new public art project in the Quarters area. Dirt City Dream City is what’s called a “transitory” public art project because the artworks created will not necessarily remain as permanent installations. Designed to stimulate interest in the area, the exhibit will “…delve into the past, look to the future, wallow in the grit and radiate in the sometimes hidden beauty that is alluring and unique to the Quarters to conceive provocative and innovative public interventions.”
Emily Van Driesum is one of the 15 artists exploring our neighbourhood. Her installation metaphorically explores the positive and negative impacts of urban renewal as new people transplant themselves in an area.
“I will be working with trees that have been cut from suburban areas. The piece will be a forest in one of the area parking lots. They will be sunk into the ground and I will then create the illusion that they’ve been sewn into the ground with wire. The positive is that there is greenery where we need greenery and that we’ve healed the trees by stitching them into their new home. The negative is they will wither and die; the attempt to heal may have hindered them. This is a metaphor for people moving into the inner city from the suburbs, establishing new root systems in their new home. The tree is also part of the Boyle Street Community League logo.”
Emily’s installation is just one of many that also include a community garden, a radio station, music, storytelling, and textile art. The artists are a variety of ages and backgrounds, including Aboriginal. The public is invited to explore the exhibit from July 20 – 30 and take part in a free street party on July 20 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on the corner of 95 Street and Jasper Avenue.
A more permanent piece of public art has just been announced – a Community Table which will grace the grounds in front of Boyle Renaissance Plaza. BRP (which we share with our partner, the YMCA) contains the new Boyle Street Community League facilities. The grounds will be landscaped next spring, and an outdoor “Community Room” of lights and trees will act as a community meeting place with the table at its centre.
Designed by Edmonton artist Jordan Tomnuk, our Community Table is a graceful, undulating work that takes nature and community as its inspirations and can seat up to 55 adults in a variety of configurations – traditional seating, high bar seats, and a standing area. It is made of Ipé wood; a durable hardwood that he says will mesh with the natural surroundings of the landscaped place and contrast the modern building materials of the community centre and Melcor YMCA Welcome Village.
Jordan writes “…[this design] allows for a community table that not only will last for many years of continuous use, but it creates a new visually exciting and experiential piece that promotes togetherness at a new public level; one that is best suited to a rejuvenated community such as this.”
The urban vibe and cultures of Boyle Street are set to be immortalized in a legacy mural project undertaken with the Quarters Downtown. Panmela Castro, a noted activist and spray paint artist uses this discipline to advocate for social change. She is in Edmonton this summer to mentor local artists and lead a project in Old Strathcona as well as on Boyle Street. Gracing the wall of the House of Refuge Mission, the mural will celebrate the many different people who call the community “home.”
Last but not least, Boyle Street Community League is sending out a call for an artist versed in many disciplines to lead its “projection project,” Illuminated Boyle. A combination of art and community, this artwork will combine historic imagery of our lost heritage building with the contemporary words, images, photographs, paintings, and inspirations of the artists living and working in Boyle Street. The images will be projected ten feet tall and thirty feet long on the community centre’s gallery wall and visible to the street, creating a tapestry of signature images for the community centre’s opening months. The lead artist, preferably a resident of Boyle Street, will research and gather the historic images through the City and Provincial Archives, and solicit images from artists and residents of the Boyle Street Community. Please contact the BSCL at (780) 422-5857 for more information.
Each of these four projects alone would be a reason to celebrate art’s place in urban renewal. To have all four of them taking place within the same few months makes Boyle Street community a hotbed of creation and energy.