Skip to content

Orillia's streets are alive again with art

Festival celebrates 10th anniversary: 'It highlights the talent and vitality of our beautiful city'

Orillia's downtown streets came alive Saturday for a tenth-straight year.

This time, it was a celebration of all the art that has been produced over the last decade since the launch of the grassroots public art program, Streets Alive.

“We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Streets Alive with a project retrospective,” said Leslie Fournier, an Orillia resident and founder of the project. “We’ve got a selection of pieces from every year and 15 have been refreshed.”

In all, 40 pieces will adorn the main street down to the waterfront for this celebration, she said.

“We thought we’d celebrate by looking back and admiring the work and letting locals and visitors see the whole program and how it has grown,” said Fournier.

“Where people think I’m Streets Alive, it’s actually the artists who are Streets Alive,” she added.

The mayor, who was also in attendance, both agreed and disagreed with her.

“Leslie is right in that the artists and art really helped transform the main street,” said Steve Clarke. “Leslie is wrong that it’s just the artists; it’s her who has created this legacy.”

The celebration that took place Saturday in front of Closet Gems and Hambly Optical on Mississaga Street East attracted many walking the main drag.

Nicole Venne and her daughter, Carly Venne, who were shopping downtown, crossed the street to take a look at the unique art pieces on display.

“Oh, my god, it’s amazing,” said Nicole, of Oro-Medonte. “It highlights the talent and vitality of our beautiful city here.”

Artists’ hard work deserves to be appreciated and viewed, she said, and this is a good way of supporting them.

“This tells me that the city supports locals, and that’s good,” said Carly, who recently moved to Orillia.

Artist Michelle Hill was delighted to be a part of the project once again.

“This was my original chair,” she said, referring to the piece she had created for a previous Streets Alive theme.

In redoing the original piece, Hill said, she tried to stick to the same theme.

“There were photos on it, but they’d started to come off,” she said. “And so now they’ve all been hand sketched with charcoal.”

Each pocket of the chair contains pieces that represent previous works by Hill.

Despite the fact that pieces are up on Mississaga Street, said Fournier, there are no prizes to be announced this year at the Starry Night Studio Tour.

However, she added, there will be announcements at the August event to acknowledge and recognize the contributions of some people who have gone above and beyond in their participation in Streets Alive.