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Outdoor art exhibit showcases local urban birds by Chantal Rousseau

This year’s Paved Paradise, titled Some of the Many Birds of Kingston, features a collection of reproductions of original watercolour paintings by Kingston-based artist, Chantal Rousseau.

Paved Paradise is a temporary outdoor art exhibit created to improve the appearance of the parking lot space at the corner of Ontario and Brock streets in downtown Kingston.

This year’s exhibit celebrates the diversity of urban wildlife through portraits of seven different bird species that can be found in downtown Kingston and the surrounding urban greenspaces. The artwork will be installed in two stages, beginning Tuesday, Jul. 21, 2020, on Brock Street across from City Hall. It is expected to be completed by Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

Rousseau has created this work in response to a public call for submissions issued earlier in the year that asked local artists to consider a range of themes, including diverse Kingston stories, the evolution of the community over time, or to portray the city’s energy and vibe.

“Public art enhances our urban experience and this year’s installation encourages us to reflect on how that experience interacts with the natural elements around us,” notes Colin Wiginton, Cultural Director at the City of Kingston. “Chantal Rousseau’s work seems particularly relevant this year as we’ve seen a resurgence of wildlife in lots of different places as a result of reduced human traffic.” 

This year’s installation comes as Love Kingston Marketplace is in full swing. This collaborative initiative between the City, Downtown Kingston! BIA and Tourism Kingston aims to create more public space and a safe and welcoming environment for residents and visitors in the city’s core. It also provides opportunities to profile local artists through Paved Paradise, the YGK Music playlist and live performances in Springer Market Square.

Artist Statement 

Some of the Many Birds of Kingston celebrates the diversity of urban wildlife in Kingston by showcasing the perhaps surprising variety of common birds that live in the area. It highlights how Kingston is a city that integrates nature into its very fabric through its numerous parks, waterfront trails, and swamps.

This project uses the “Check-list of the Birds of Kingston, Ontario,” produced by the Kingston Field Naturalists, as a reference for painting common species of birds. Panels one through four feature a selection of 16 of the 17 New World Sparrows and Old-World Sparrows. Panels five and six feature eight birds in the Family Tyrannidae, namely flycatchers, pewees, and phoebes. Panel seven features four birds from the Family Parulidae, namely warblers. The hand-painted watercolours are done in the style of early field guides. 

One of the many displays of local artist Chantal Rousseau’s watercolour works depicting local bird species. Photo via the City of Kingston.

About the Artist 

Chantal Rousseau is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (BFA) and the University of Guelph (MFA) and has been involved in multiple artist collectives, including the Agitated Plover Salon, a group of Kingston-based artists who exhibited in non-traditional spaces in 2013 to 2014, as well as the Toronto-based collective Personal Volare, who were active from 2000 to 2009. She currently resides in Kingston. 

Visit Chantal’s website to learn more: chantalrousseau.ca

This is the third year a Paved Paradise exhibit has been presented by the City as part of the Art in Public Places program. This program provides the opportunity to exhibit temporary public art across the city.

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