Articles Tagged ‘graffiti’

WEEKENDER: Doors Open, graffiti questioned, videogames, native plants, and two more events to kick off June

This weekend you have the chance to explore some of Ottawa’s most interesting architectural hot spots. This year marks the 12th anniversary of Doors Open Ottawa. Over 100 buildings are participating, including a number of heritage sites, embassiess, museums, and churches. Some of the new participants this year include the Mayfair Theatre and the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. See website for list of participating buildings and tour hours. 

An image from Valerie Burton's exhibit Street Fare

Street Fare, a special exhibit of Valerie Burton’s photographic work, is a controversial artistic expression encompassing universal messages of social, political, and religious themes. Her work is unique in that she photographs post-graffiti paintings — from all over the world — with black and white film and then later alters them with paint and other techniques to create a new meaning. Galerie 240, 240 Guigues Ave. Thursday, May 30 to Friday, June 14. Open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Do you play Call of Duty or StarCraft? If so, you’re going to want to be at Ottawa’s Got Game. All proceeds raised at this tournament go to Childs Play, a charitable foundation providing toys and videogames to hospitals around the world. This event is in conjunction with the Ottawa International Gaming Conference. Time to get competitive as the grand prize is worth an estimated $13,000. Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Pkwy. Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m on Sunday, July 2. $60 to register and $13 general admission.

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SOUND SEEKERS: Rhyming, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti — House of Paint launches its festival lineup Friday

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Graffiti is just one of the four elements of hip hop on display at House of Paint. The others — rhyming, DJing, and breakdancing — are also showcased at this annual fest.

Launch parties have always been a great way to build hype. That type of event is especially suited to the Twitter age, where many pairs of thumbs can do the work that word of mouth or broadcast media used to do. It’s also a chance to throw it down with the people in your scene.

That will be the spirit of things this Friday when the organizers behind the ninth edition of House of Paint gather at Ritual Nightclub to release the lineup for their late-summer festival, which will take place Sept. 13 to 16 beneath the Dunbar Bridge (down from Brewer Park, across from Carleton University) with satellite events taking place throughout the city.

The festival celebrates the four elements of hip hop — rhyming, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti — by showcasing the work of Ottawa artists in those fields. The main event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15 with an artists’ fair, graffiti installations, DJ and MC battles, breakdancing, and workshops for kids (little ones can learn to write their name graf-style using markers or get a DJing-101 lesson). There will be an art show at the Fall Down Gallery on Bank Street and “capacity-building” workshops with academics from three universities talking about the intersection of urban issues and hip hop. There will also be unannounced “pop-up” breakdance sessions throughout the city. Admission to those events is free.

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GRAFFITI (IN ITS OWN WORDS): A Q&A with the lead artists behind Ottawa Urban Arts

Making the City Pretty

Passionate and practical, Cassandra Dickie and Mike Davis are the lead artists behind Ottawa Urban Arts, a collective of graffiti artists who work with community groups, municipal committees, and local businesses to brighten up public spaces and educate youth on positive ways to use their creative energy. As the city launches its third annual Paint It Up! campaign with Crime Prevention Ottawa, Dickie and Davis gear up for another season of application forms, mural sketches, and covering up grey concrete with bright colours. Dayanti Karunaratne talks to the dynamic duo about their love of graffiti — and why they think it’s an important part of the city’s future.

Photography by Luther Caverly

You spend a lot of time advocating for legal graffiti walls. What is it about graffiti that interests you?

CD: It’s just such a powerful form. I remember my first time seeing the tech wall: I was 12 years old, and I knew right then this was what I wanted to do.

MD: You can work with friends, meet people, and enjoy the hip-hop culture. I just love the scale and colour of it.


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SOUND SEEKERS: House of PainT returns

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

Ottawa native Eternia is back in the capital as part of House of PainT , the annual festival celebrating the city’s hip-hop culture. The storyteller in song, based in Queens, New York, headlines a showcase

Eternia returns to Ottawa for House of PainT. She will perform Friday, Aug. 5 at Ritual Nightclub.

of Ottawa MCs Friday, August 5 at Ritual Nightclub on Besserer Street. It’s also the launch of the first volume of the 613 Sessions, a compilation featuring the works of 22 MCs and other rhyme-wranglers from the region.

House of PainT (the spelling an amendment on the band name), started in 2003 as a one-day event under the Dunbar Bridge near Brewer Park. Grafitti artists would paint, breakers would bend and contort to the music of DJs and the rhymes of MCs.  It grew steadily over the years with more people participating and more events added on subsequent days. This year’s festival is already in full swing with an arts show at Fall Down Gallery (Bank and Somerset) featuring photos that depict the non-postcard bucolic view of Ottawa.

“There’s this other side to Ottawa,” says House of PainT founder Sabra Ripley, herself a B-girl dancer and longtime community builder. “It has energy and hustle and bustle and chaos. That’s what we’re celebrating.”

Ripley, a definite “doer” has never hid from a challenge. She was instrumental in getting the city to establish “legal walls” for graffiti painters to practice their work, free from bylaw violations. She recently finished a master’s degree at the University of Toronto focusing on health promotion — a longtime interest of hers. Way back in 2001, she led the OATS initiative (Ottawans Actively Teaching Safety), which taught safe partying tips at raves. She’s currently working in health promotion for the City of Toronto, but will continue spearheading the annual House of PainT event, in conjunction with a collective of six other artists, who each head a section of the festival.

House of PainT. Aug. 3 to 7. Under the Dunbar Bridge, near Brewer Park. Full festival schedule at

The Writing on the Wall

Pondering the future direction of street art with renaissance man Mat Dubé
By Fateema Sayani

The subversive paste-up on the side of a ByWard Market building is classic Shepard Fairey — except that the man himself didn’t actually install it. The famed “Obey” vandal/artist, whose work came to prominence during the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign, deployed his peeps to install the 9-by-15-metre piece outside Nrml, a clothing store at Rideau and Waller streets, in March.

Something about the process — a kind of arm’s-length revolt — had the air of industrialization. Rather than slapping his art on the side of the building under cover of darkness, Fairey — or, rather, his team of two installers — was efficient, precise, and compatible with daylight — qualities not always associated with those who create piquant social commentary.

But times they are ever changing and so are the thoughts and processes behind the ideas. As such, the Fairey piece marked a shift for some in the Ottawa community. If you hear this noise — kkkkrrarrraacck — you can recognize it as the sound of pendulums swinging.

Street art doesn’t have a long history unless you want to trace its origins back to hieroglyphics. It’s generally considered a forum for modern malaise, expressed in photo-based or text works that call into question urban habits, political leanings, and cultural instincts. Some of it is eyes-glazed-over bad, some of it is made-ya-think good, and some of it is purely eye candy, free of metaphor and deep analysis.

Mat Dubé's work can be seen in various locations throughout the city.

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URBAN DECODER: I sent a letter the other day and noticed the mailbox is covered with postal codes. What happened to the traditional red boxes?

Photo courtesy of Canada Post

Canada Post unveiled the new mailboxes in the summer of 2010 in an effort to prevent people from spray painting the boxes, an action that always garners complaints from residents.  The new boxes are covered with a special Teflon layer that limits the sticking impact of spray paint, which makes any vandalism that does occur easier to remove.  In addition to preventing vandalism, the new design also aims to add a modern artistic aesthetic to the traditional depository: the outer casing is now adorned with different coloured postal codes, an ode to the postal system that has connected Canada for more than 140 years.  If your neighbourhood doesn’t yet have these special mailboxes, don’t worry – Canada Post says the new rollout will be complete in January 2011.