Over the summer of 2015, a group of artists have been touring various alleyways in central Ottawa, and creating art on location. Most artists worked in sketchbooks, with ink, pencil, or watercolour, but we were joined by photographers & video artists join us on these excursions. Each week a different location was selected, usually spaces behind commercial areas (e.g., behind Barrymores) but sometimes the group ventured into more residential laneways (e.g. Hintonburg lanes). Each week between 5-10 people would come out for a few hours and make art and some of the results are being displayed at Chinatown Remixed.
Alleyways in Ottawa are overlooked spaces. They serve as unloading zones, garbage pickup and discrete areas for wait staff to smoke cigarettes. More interestingly, they serve as rudimentary pedestrian zones: though cars do travel down them, the alley, with no sidewalks, also becomes a quasi pedestrian street. Knowledgable pedestrians can use them to get off main streets or use them as shortcuts. There is a strange beauty in the aesthetic: because they are not being officially presented to the public, they are often decayed and decrepit. Alleys put on display what is required for a city to work: dumpsters, scary bundles of hydro wires, venting & piping, grime & grease traps.
Yet, alleyways in Ottawa could be something more. Examples of this are as close as Montreal, and as far away as Melbourne. Many narrow pedestrian zones in European cities must have once served the functions Ottawa’s alleyways do now. Imagine if a pedestrian could cut behind Bank Street, walk on cobblestone and stop for a coffee at an outdoor patio and look at a mural along the wall.
We chose to display our work in a laneway, using wheat paste on old doors scavenged from the curb.
Artists on display: Marc Adornato, Stephen Frew, , Mawt Trood, Kristina Corre, Colin White, Emma Cochrane, Anthony Parravano and Chris Roussakis