Construction continues to plague much of Bronson Avenue, with the roadway still closed or half open as part of the city’s major water and sewer upgrade, and an uninviting fence surrounds almost an entire block where the McNabb Community Centre and the adjacent schoolyard park are located.
City of Ottawa
Artist Tim desClouds' installation will decorate the gate of McNabb Park at Bronson and Gladstone avenues.
But the Bronson Avenue that Tim desClouds hopes for is open and accessible, with a green space at the corner of Bronson and Gladstone avenues that engages in residents’ everyday lives.
DesClouds is one of two artists whose design was chosen to be showcased as public street art on Bronson once the dump trucks and backhoes disappear next year.
DesClouds designed a piece of art to be worked into the area near the southwest corner of McNabb Park, where Bronson intersects with Gladstone. The all-steel piece is designed to serve as a gateway to the public space, with a maple tree branching out in the middle. The artwork is to include cut-outs of people sitting on top of the fence, and is conceived so that public benches can be built into the fence but appearing to fold out of the central gate.
The project is being funded as part of the two-year-long Bronson Avenue Renewal project. The city is not only changing old sewer and water lines, but also repaving sidewalks and attempting to upgrade the streetscape as a whole for the community.
Program co-ordinator Melissa Black said it’s apparent from the outdoor art projects in other places around the city, such as along Bank and Preston streets, that the creative touches add a lot of value to public spaces.
“It’s colourful and it really enlivens the street,” says Black. “It encourages pedestrians to walk up and down the street and discover all the different pieces, and I think that’s really important for a neighbourhood – to encourage people to explore and wander around.”
DesClouds echoed the sentiment.
“If you put something beautiful there then it might actually start the ball rolling to create a much more significant park for Bronson,” desClouds says, adding that he hopes his artwork will help get the community to invest more in McNabb Park.
The Bronson Avenue Renewal project will also include artwork designed by artist Andrew O’Malley to be installed in front of the Bronson Centre near the northend of the street.
O’Malley’s design is a light installation showing several figures representing the community, with the colour of the illumination changing from person to person to show the importance of individuals within the neighbourhood. Finally, all of the individuals synchronize as one colour, representing the community coming together as one.
O’Malley says this kind of art installation gives the community a sense of ownership and pride by giving people a high-profile symbol that also celebrates them.
“Adding a piece like Community Channel to the Bronson Centre announces the public and open nature of the centre to the public, and creates a local landmark,” O’Malley says about his winning design.
According the city’s website, the Bronson Avenue Renewal project will also lead to better cycling connections, the planting of more trees, and the placement of more street furniture along the revamped roadway.