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City unveils first in series of 'diverse' public art installations

Unique installations provide 'new, accessible, year-round experiences for the public to enjoy,' said mayor at unveiling at Orillia Recreation Centre

Artists, local officials, and residents were at the Orillia Recreation Centre Thursday evening to unveil the first of nine public art installations that will be placed around the city over the next few months.

Based on the theme “Crossroads, Connections and Intersections,” the city’s newest public art arrives on the strength of a $331,700 grant provided by the federal government through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

The pieces will be located through the city’s four wards along trail networks, road intersections, and entrances into the city to “invite people to venture off the beaten path to explore all that Orillia has to offer.”

Thursday’s unveiling introduced a piece titled ‘Endorphin’, based on the molecule of an endorphin, by Quebec-based artist Camille Rajotte.

“Today’s unveiling is an important milestone for the City of Orillia’s culture and tourism sectors,” said Filomena Tassi, from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, in a statement read at Thursday's unveiling.

“The Government of Canada loves supporting projects like this with the Orillia Museum of Art & History so they can showcase the talents of Canadian artists and inspire creativity.”

Mayor Don McIsaac thanked the federal government for its funding, noting the art commission will add value to the community.

“We are honoured to have such a diverse group of local, regional and national artists and your works in the City of Orillia public art collection,” said Mayor Don McIsaac.

“Orillia is a vibrant, growing city, thanks to art and cultural opportunities such as this, (and) the Crossroads, Connections and Intersections art commission adds to these opportunities, providing new, accessible, year-round experiences for the public to enjoy," said the mayor at the ceremony outside the Orillia Recreation Centre.

The artists were selected from a pool of submissions from around the country in conjunction with the Art in Public Places Committee.

“I want to thank the two juries that we had, made up of local citizens, for the hours and hours – they spent many evenings … with us going over the art and choosing some really fun and creative and representational pieces of art,” said Catherine Phillips, committee chair.

“I also want to thank the Art in Public Places Committee, who's all here today, for overseeing this work, for the very careful oversight ensuring that the process was fair and equitable, and had local interests really at the heart of the work that we did with this project.”

A number of the artists selected were present at Wednesday’s unveiling, including Rajotte, who said her work is meant to bring people together.

“It's the molecule of pleasure and … happiness, and I wanted to put together happiness and the connection of people together,” Rajotte told OrilliaMatters. “That’s why the hands are together, they all meet … the hands are representing social integration, interaction.”

The bases that hold the molecule up are meant to serve as benches for the public, Rajotte said, who noted she always tries to incorporate public furniture into her art.

“I want people to interact with their surroundings, and to look more around them and to see how the built environment is done,” she said “Art, for me, is the way to make happen those interactions, and almost all my works (act as) public furniture.”

Rachel Babineau, another artist selected for the commission, said her work will be installed at the Atherley Road trail intersection within the next couple months.

“(My piece is) like a honeycomb style sculpture that's going to be really vividly painted with wildflowers,” said Babineau, who is originally from Orillia.

“(The call was) for something that talked about community and talked about environment, so I thought, looking at the connection between bees and flowers and our ecosystem, how that has a really good connection to purpose, how everyone has value, and that they just need to be taken care of.”

The other art installations set to take place throughout the city are as follows:

  • Kyle Thornley, ‘Stories Converge’, at the Fittons Road trail intersection;
  • Stephen Cruise, ‘Hotel Echo Sierra’, at the West Orillia Sports Complex and Stormwater Pond;
  • Monica Wickeler, ‘Sugar Maple Deer’, at the James Street trail intersection;
  • Nate Nettleton, ‘Meandering Rainbow’, at the Wilson Point Road trail intersection; and
  • Soon Cho, ‘Biindigen/Welcome Mural’, at the Water Filtration Plant, facing Lake Couchiching

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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