One of my greatest performances.
I like to think one of the best parts of public art is the performance you get to put on and the feedback you can receive from the public. There really is something about the inquisitive mind of an on-looker wondering: “what the heck are you doing?”
Explaining the project and process to people invites them into the art and really positions the artist as a performer and storyteller. It was a role I’ve played before throughout my artistic career and I truly enjoy being able to have unique conversations with my audience.
We received so many comments as the installation took place – most friendly and some so deeply appreciative that it really left me speechless and opened my eyes to the effect art can have on the public. It showed me that a few little slices of colour on the once-mundane road can actually brighten someone’s day.
“Are you… summoning something?”
One of my oldest and dearest friends showed up with me at 8 a.m. for the first few days of the project to get the outlining done. It was quite the event as we spent the day joking with passersby about whether aliens or magic were at play.
People would look at the shapes filled with strange letter codes, furrow their brows and wonder out loud to us their curious interest and provide theories of what it all could mean. Morgan and I got a real good laugh out of a few speculations.
Elementary shapes began to take form as we dragged the drywall square, rulers, paint markers, chalk, and a host of tools down the 124 foot-long space. We worked slowly into the afternoon, the ferocious heat of the sun beating down on our poor heads.
Two days went by and after a fairly good sunburn and a few ice packs for my sore back we had finished the task of blocking out the behemoth. Taking some creative liberties along the way we added a few elements such as the hopscotch exclamation mark, which gives young ones a short space to play.
No, we weren’t summoning anything. We quickly explained to each curious visitor that the letters in each shape were initial colour codes, not unlike a gigantic version of paint-by-numbers.
Part A + Part B = …?
And… it was okay, easy even, after figuring out a few numbers and implementing some fairly simple math. Colours began flying out the door and I would spend most of the next two mornings jogging back and forth between ArtSpace and the 180 restaurant delivering paint to my amazing painting team. (Made up of Lindsay Jones of LJ Jones Creative, Ashley Hall of Orngcrmscle, and my good friend Morgan McKeiver.)
Note: As a requirement of the city, we were provided with a unique street paint that provides good pigment, adhesion, and traction for pedestrians. Check out more info on Streetbond 150.
Okay, I’m up early – where’s the worm?
Admittedly – I am not a morning person. But there is something kind of fun about being awake before the masses and experiencing the eerie electric hum of the downtown before the birds start their chirping and people start working. In the darkness of pre-dawn, you could find me tossing pylons up and down the street and getting ready for another long-haul day of painting.
We learned quickly that the sun was not our friend in this project and by noon the heat of the pavement was enough to burn fingers and limbs and quite literally cook our paint. I took this as a good sign to call it quits for the day.
After only two days of work a large majority of the painting was finished. I decided to take on the outlining solo as it required a fairly good handle of the finer details of the design. These couple of days really taught me to be patient with myself and forced me to find unique ways to problem solve having fewer hands on the canvas.
I was wrong in my first approach thinking that outlining in tape would be efficient and I quickly crafted myself some cardboard and wooden stencils to expedite the process. This is what allowed me to finish the outlining by myself in only a handful of days. I’ve never been so tan in my life!
All-in-all I was amazed we were able to complete this project in a total of about seven days. Despite the challenges of the delay of our paint getting across the border, waiting for the rain to finally clear up, and then trying not to burn up in the sun on a good paint day – the project went so smoothly I felt like I needed to do more after I signed my name.
Moving forward and celebration.
It’s funny, I’d never thought I’d have the chance to accomplish a project quite this big. But projects this big don’t get done without the community coming together to make it happen so a huge thank you goes out to the people and businesses below:
Other Mural Artists
Local Businesses on Hunter St. W
- The One Eighty
- The Toy Shop
- Henry’s Barber Shop
- The Night Kitchen
- Meta4 Gallery
- Black Honey
- Karma’s Café
- The Running Room
- The Red Dog
- Ball Real Estate
- La Hacienda
- Sams Place
- Kettle Drums
- Hanoi House
- The Dirty Burger
And the many businesses that have welcomed us into their space to create this work.
Sponsors and Volunteers
City of Peterborough
Electric City Culture Council
And a huge thanks to Wendy Trusler our wonderful Public Arts Facilitator, who did a fantastic job of keeping us from melting into the pavement and helping us get this project done so smoothly and efficiently.
Sharing is caring
If you’re downtown Peterborough this summer make sure to stop by and check out Hopscotch PTBO. If you take any pictures feel free to hashtag with #HopscotchPTBO, #RenaissanceOnHunter or tag me @aaronrobitaille_design on most social platforms as I’d love to see your photographs.
Hopscotch PTBO is a road mural that intends to beautify our city, give a sense of civic pride, and highlight inclusivity. Inspired by hopscotch drawings found across our city’s sidewalks, it’s a celebration of playfully moving forward – aiming to reinvigorate the community with the joy and movement of art.