Taking a walk on the artsy side

The pandemic has forced the arts industry to be more creative as members seek new ways to engage with the public. Many galleries and other arts spaces were forced to close down over the last 18 months, but promoted new ideas: outdoor spaces, for instance, suddenly became valuable for the likes of art walks in central locations.

Over the summer, new art walks were created all over the Waterloo Region. The latest one was created in downtown St. Jacobs, giving consumers a unique experience as they take in the shopping or restaurants. The St. Jacobs art walk boasts a colourful range of art that also ties in the local history. A painted quilt on the front of the Toy Soup building by artist Stephanie Scott shows the ingrained history of quilt-making that has been going on since the townships were first formed. A painted image of a horse and buggy shows the Mennonite history that surrounds the region, located on the side of A Gift to Remember.

“We’ve been able to install more and more each year, which is really exciting,” said Carrie Briscoe, the St. Jacobs BIA coordinator. “They all reflect the vision of the St. Jacobs village. The second one Stephanie Scott did is on the Toy Soup building. It’s a quilt, so it’s a dedication to the strong quilting history that we have within the village and also within the township.

“We did one in collaboration with Luke Swinson and his father August Swinson, and that’s the Conestogo river scene on the side of the building with Rhumba in it. And so that was really neat because it has a bit of a more dimensional feel to it because the birds that are on the river scene are made by wood panels, and then installed on top of the backdrop.”

The plan is to continue to add installations, diversifying the offerings available to visitors, Briscoe added.

“They don’t necessarily have to be murals, that’s just what people have submitted proposals for. It could be anything, it could be a sculpture.”

The latest to be painted was by local muralist Trisha Abe on the side of the Living Fresh building.

“I saw Trisha Abe just finishing it up today – it pays tribute to the diversity within the village, and also incorporates the plants, because that is what Living Fresh does.”

“I really enjoyed painting in St. Jacobs village. I took longer lunch breaks than normal because it’s just so peaceful being near the river – it was a much needed change of scenery from downtown,” said Abe. “I was blown away by how busy it was every single day, how many tourists come. I got a lot of creative freedom for this piece – they were so excited about it.”

The new addition by Abe was finished last week and is one of two new murals that can be viewed along the art walk in the village. The other new mural is located on the side of Cellar 52, also just completed. More information about the artists can be found at www.stjacobsvillage.com/artwalk, as well as the location of each mural. Currently the St. Jacobs art walk consists of 11 different murals, with more to come.

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