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August 2007

Legal walls in Orleans

It looks like a new legal wall (8x12ft plywood) will finally get launched July 28th at the Orleans Skatepark, funded by the City and our local councilor, Bob Monette. There is already a lot of graff art there on the skatepark structures and concrete dividers, this will add a much larger “canvas”. There were supposed to be two walls initially, due to red tape and funding cuts it’s now only one, but it’s a start.

The City has approved this as a one year trial, their focus is to see if creating a legal wall will reduce local tagging. I don’t think the link is that simple. However, I DO see it as an opportunity for artistic expression by youth, something the city is building for them and their culture. Small steps, but hopefully positive ones. I suggest that for those that do tag - just don't do it near a legal wall. Then hopefully at the end of the trial the City will not close down the legal walls we have, and even build more next year throughout Ottawa.

For the opening on July 28th of this wall, I'm looking for someone (or a crew) to do a nice piece to kick it off as part of the official opening. After that - it's a free legal wall, like the House of Paint wall or the Tech wall - do whatever. Whoever does the initial piece would need their own paint, but it will be primed already. I'd like to see some pics of their work first to see what they can do so I can make a choice. Would be nice to have someone from the east end of Ottawa, and there is an honorarium for this first piece too - as in money.

Also, as part of the Orleans Youth Resource Centre Toast event, at the Skatepark on the 28th, I will have four temporary 4x8 panels set up for a graff demo, as well as for non-graff artists to experiment. For that I need a couple of artists that can work on two of the walls in the day - to show people how a piece develops. Also I would like to have some mentoring, of not only developing artists but also just any young kids and adults, to show some techniques, advice on paints, and get them to try a line or two on the other two walls. I can help with this, nothing fancy, just to show the public that there is serious talent and technique needed to do this, so they start to see beyond the vandals label. I’ve managed to get a bit of cash for these artists too. This might even lead to some local businesses interested in hiring you for a mural for their place.

Pass the word, have anyone interested contact me. Many of you know of me as someone that has been working for many years to preserve and promote this, not only from photos in Ottawa and Toronto but also as an active volunteer. I'm not interested in busting anyone, and I don't pass on any info to the cops or City.

This is a chance to show your skills as an artist and make some cash. And, it’s also an opportunity this summer to change the negative biases some of the public and city staff have towards graffiti murals and the associated youth culture. Hopefully from efforts like these the anti-graffiti bylaw – due to come into effect next year – will be amended to consider more creative solutions that just Eradication.

Mike Young

Ottawa Coordinator - CAVE (Communities Advancing Valued Environments)