The whimsical pigeon and squirrel sculptures at the corner of Princess and Division Streets in downtown Kingston may soon be joined by colourful new artwork, as the City of Kingston works with Highpoint Developments on the creation of an exterior large-scale mural on a new building overlooking the ‘Hub’ area of town.
Specifically, the mural will be installed on the upper south-facing exterior wall of the new building currently being constructed at 168 Division Street, at the corner of Division and Garrett Streets, in the area often referred to as ‘The Hub’ of downtown Kingston.
According to the City of Kingston, the mural installation project was identified as a “community benefit” for the development. Section 37 of the City’s Planning Act defines community benefits as those “facilities, services, or matters” that can be offered to the City as “density bonusing” – things offered by developers in exchange for the City’s allowance of increased height or density on a development site. According to the City, this mural project is the first public art community benefit project for Kingston and is supported by the City’s Public Art Program – specifically, The Hub Project.
“Through the rezoning of the lands to increase the height and density allowed at 168 Division Street, the planning process allows us to negotiate and receive funds for Community Benefits in exchange for facilities, services, or something else that will benefit the community. The Official Plan that was reviewed and approved in 2017 outlines a number of items that can be a community benefit such as affordable housing, additional parkland, community centres, or public art. The City’s Public Art Master Plan approved in 2014 also encourages the provision of public art in private development projects and speaks to how public art can animate the public realm in a way that benefits artists, residents, and visitors,” said Danika Lochhead, Manager of Arts and Sector Development for the City of Kingston.
“Based on this, and through conversations with the developer of 168 Division Street who recognized the value of public art, a mural was identified as a Community Benefit for 168 Division Street. The mural is also aligned with a City initiative called The Hub Project that brings public art to the intersection of Princess and Division Street. There was extensive community consultation done for The Hub Project and themes and ideas for public art that were identified were included as goals for the mural at 168 Division Street.”
The project itself will be funded by Highpoint Developments, who will then own and maintain the mural once it is installed. The City of Kingston is managing the artist selection process and invited a call for submissions from Canadian artists. Two Ontario artists were shortlisted by a jury to submit proposals for the project, according to the City.
Now the City is calling for public feedback on the two mural proposals.
The first option, entitled Soaring Aves, is the concept of artist Dominic Laporte, a muralist, painter, and commercial illustrator based out of Ottawa, whose works explore themes of nature and wildlife.
“My updated concept for this project is based on the idea of living in the present moment and instilling a sense of comradery, empathy, and support of local initiatives. The design is a dynamic depiction of four different species of birds; The House Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, all of which are indigenous to Southern Ontario and the Kingston region,” Laporte wrote in his concept statement as part of his proposal.
“Ultimately, my vision behind this concept design was developed with the surrounding neighbourhood in mind. Aesthetically, I aimed for the imagery to embody the energy, diversity, and strong community values that are ever present in ‘The Hub.’”
The second option, entitled Moment in the City, is the concept of artist Peru Dyer Jalea, a well-known Peruvian-Canadian muralist whose work is influenced by digital and traditional artforms, and a quarter-century of graffiti painting.
“My work aims to heal, inspire and uplift people’s spirits by transforming neglected and often oppressive spaces into safe, playful, and imaginative worlds. My style is marked by a puzzle-like use of simple geometric shapes, clean parallel lines, and a use of coexisting primary colours evocative of the simplicity of childhood,” Jalea wrote in his concept statement.
“Coming from a graffiti background, my work is rooted in lettering as a foundation and then polished through a process of intuitive restructuring to custom fit the spaces I am invited to beautify. Legible enough for people to find it in time, the subtly written ‘KINGSTON’ invites the community to continue developing a sense of pride with a new landmark and tourist destination.”
Public input for Kingston’s first ‘community benefit’ public art mural
Residents can share their views by:
- completing the artist feedback survey on the City of Kingston’s Get Involved webpage
- requesting a copy of the artist feedback survey by calling 613-546-0000 (The city will include a postage-paid envelope to return the survey)
- completing the survey by phone with City staff by calling 613-546-0000
“Public art enriches our physical environments and brings buildings and streetscapes to life, but it can also boost the local economy by attracting more visitors to a specific neighbourhood and area and instill a sense of community pride,” Lochhead stated.
“Princess and Division Street is a gateway to downtown Kingston and a nexus for multiple neighbourhoods, and through the mural at 168 Division Street, and other public art initiatives, we hope that it will enhance the experience of living, visiting, or travelling through this area.”
The public engagement process closes on Monday, Jul. 4, 2022, at 4 p.m.
For more information on the project, the shortlisted artists, and their concepts, visit the City’s Get Involved page devoted to the 168 Division Street mural.