May to July 2015

The City of Ottawa Public Art Program is proud to celebrate 30 years of providing public art opportunities for artists in Ottawa! As part of our celebration, the Public Art Program is partnering with PATTISON Outdoor Advertising’s Art in Transit programme on the cARTe blanche pilot project to display conceptual artworks on five billboards. 

Artists were asked to propose images that outline concepts for future public art projects within Ottawa. Ideas were not limited by reality. A Peer Assessment Committee selected artworks from five local artists/artist teams.

cARTe blanche artworks

Christos Pantieras, Clickbait

935 Gladstone Avenue, West of Preston Street

One line of white text on a red background that reads: I’M UTTERLY SPEECHLESS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist statement

Clickbait references an online marketing strategy that provides information to appeal to the curiosity of a broad audience. At the expense of quality or accuracy, unexciting statements are followed by exaggerated declarations to form sensational headlines that encourage an individual to click on a link and then re-direct their internet navigation.

The concept for my billboard proposal draws on this strategy of baiting one’s attention in order to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder among the public of the National Capital Region. By using a sourced clickbait, a statement is removed from its online environment and is now inserted within a real space - the city of Ottawa. The purpose of the statement shifts from a marketing strategy to a bold declaration that promotes a sense of anticipation, speculation, and critical thinking.

The text “I’M UTTERLY SPEECHLESS” is a nod to both success and to disbelief. The City of Ottawa Public Art Program has resulted in some stellar public art commissions. There have also been some rather uninspiring commissions that have not reached their full envisioned potential or that have emerged through the independent initiatives of local organizations. By building from both the successes of public art and learning from those commissions that did not meet public and/or critical expectations, we now have an informed eye to the future. Clickbait aims to invite a dialogue about the untapped and future potential of public art in Ottawa. Infrastructure is expanding and this ever growing city is poised to make its mark on a local, national, and global level. With vision and due process, the next 30 years will be filled with vast possibilities and engaging works of art.

[top]

Jean-François Lacombe, A Beacon in a Concrete Sea

935 Gladstone Avenue, West of Preston Street

Photograph of a man resting on a bench that is made of deconstructed road barricades.

Artist statement

“A Beacon in a Concrete Sea” bench is a playful way for the public to reclaim city space in a slightly rebellious way. Through this project, the barrier no longer controls movement or restricts usage—rather, it’s an invitation to linger, interact with others, and take a breather from the frantic pace of our daily lives, a staple of life in modern-day cities. 

My work is decidedly situated between design and visual arts. Through multidisciplinary projects, I create new meeting spaces that appeal to both our intellect and sensuality. What drives my work is how we inhabit the city, and, by extension, how we relate to one another and our environment. I enjoy questioning notions of private and public space, how we relate to images and objects all around us and the tension that exists between nature and urban environment. My goal is to create new areas that enable us to recolonize the city’s imaginary landscape. Areas that bridge the gaps between the user (humans) and the site (the city), and which enable us to imagine new ways of living in our world; in other words, opening up our minds to possibilities other than programmed systems and usages.

[top]

Alisdair MacRae, Billboard for the Homeless

1020 Somerset Street, East of Breezehill Avenue

Diptych. On the left, three lines of text read: The best way to end homelessness is by listening. On the right is a photograph of two wooden chairs next to bags of garbage and a pile of snow.

Artist statement

My future public art concept addresses the homeless community of Ottawa. The project would offer tangible benefits to those without proper housing, and would only be developed with input from those who are living on the streets. The challenge in gaining such feedback is making the resources available for the Ottawa homeless community to voice its opinions or ideas about how to develop solutions. Initially, my concept was to include a means for people to contact me with feedback. However, in addition to only being a concept meant for the future, it also struck me that offering a social media hashtag or even a phone number might exclude the community I wanted to involve. I still believe in the importance of developing a future public art concept that could address homelessness in Ottawa, and for the time being, I am interested in hearing from those that have the means to contact me, #endottawahomeless.

[top]

Annette Hegel and Timothy Hunt, The Group of Seven, Set Adrift

2026 Scott Street, East of Athlone Avenue

A painting of an iceberg photoshopped to look like it’s floating on the Rideau Canal.

Artist statement

 The paintings of The Group of Seven embody the long held association of Canadians with the wilderness. With the majority of our population tied to technology and clustered in cities with ballooning urban sprawl, the longing for “terre sauvage” still strongly resonates.

The proposed installation is an inflatable island complete with rocks, clouds and mountains; forms directly inspired by the bold colours and shapes so firmly rooted in the Canadian psyche. Imagery synonymous with respected institutions, such as the National Gallery of Canada, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Art Gallery of Ontario, is set adrift on the Rideau Canal, at play with the sky and reflections in the water and set against the backdrop of the capital city. The juxtaposition of a wild island oasis floating within a manicured urban setting offers a whimsical invitation to passersby both on land and water. It poses questions about our relationship to art in public places as well as our connection with the land and nature beyond the city.

The Group of Seven, Set Adrift would be a giant, reinforced nylon, cold air-inflatable sculpture measuring 30.5m x 10m x 14m and made of durable, UV treated, mildew resistant, and fire retardant poly-vinyl.

Lake and Mountains by Lawren S. Harris used with permission from Stewart Sheppard, Vancouver.
Photo: Suzanne Britton

[top]

Tony Fouhse and Paul Cavanaugh, Poster, Rebel Action Plan

2026 Scott Street, East of Athlone Avenue

Two views of a building at different angles. Over the image are the words COMBAT CONFORMITY and an upside down Canadian flag with the hashtag free Canada art.

Artist statement

The year is 2024 and Canada has devolved into a dystopian society. The Central Government controls all forms of communication, commerce and social interaction. The Police and Secret Services monitor and quash all dissent.

Some artists have decided that it is best not to bite the hand that feeds them, and so are content to use their talent to support the status quo. They produce facile unquestioning imagery that keeps the populace sedate; others, seeing support for the powers-that-be as a career step-up, actively prop up the Central Government with their work.

But there are still pockets of resistance and small, self-regulated societies that exist in “Free Zones”. These rebel cells use both social media and public spaces to make their presence known. They understand that, while their messages will be hunted down and scoured, it is of the utmost importance to confirm their existence and express their point of view; to let people know that alternatives are not only possible, but also viable.

This scenario is the thinking behind Poster, Rebel Action Plan; a series of messages intended to let the citizens of the Free Zones know that they are not alone. These messages are also aimed at citizens being controlled by the Central Government, showing that resistance is not futile. 

[top]

cARTe blanche by bike

ROUTE DIRECTIONS

A. 942 Gladstone Avenue: Clickbait and A Beacon in a Concrete Sea

Head Northwest on the Champagne/O-Train Corridor pathway

Follow pathway right up to Somerset Street West

B. 1020 Somerset Street West: Billboard for the Homeless 

Head Southwest on Somerset Street West

Turn right onto Bayswater Avenue

Continue onto Bayview Road

Turn left onto Scott Street pathway

Continue on Scott Street pathway

C. 2026 Scott Street: The Group of Seven, Set Adrift et Poster, Rebel Action Plan 

 

cARTe blanche projects were selected by an independent professional arts jury. The artwork, themes or services offered are those of the artist and do not represent those of the City of Ottawa or PATTISON Outdoor Advertising.

In partnership with: 

Pattison Outdoor Advertising logo