Ottawa – what a great city! It’s clean, friendly, safe, interesting, quiet and conservative, just look at our main highway, the 417, it’s straight simple and uncomplicated. We have government drone walking everyday from from 7-9 every morning and from 3-5 every evening to and from government building to bus stations to home with their business suits and messenger bags with expressionless faces, like a bunch of robots! Ottawa also has a night life, oh yes, lot’s of bars and discos and restaurants and people walking around the ByWard Market every evening of the week. Not that I am a big night life enthusiast, but I will tell you that if anyone comes from any big city in the world, Ottawa will seem pretty dull for its night life! Ottawa also has the Rideau Canal, the largest skating rink in the world, with its 40 some days of skating every years, its Winterlude festival and the famous Beaver Tail pastry – Winterlude welcomes thousands of people from around the world! But none of this is the PULSE of Ottawa!
I thought long and hard all week about what the pulse of Ottawa could possibly be and initially, I was going to do a project with young children in my community because they are at the heart of this city like all cities but time did not permit me to make this idea come to life. All along, I kept thinking about Ottawa’s artist community and the more I thought about it the more I realized that the artists themselves are Ottawa’s PULSE! Many of them work in governments building during the day, at bars and restaurants at night, on the Rideau Canal in the winter and at local daycare’s and seniors residents homes – really they can be found everywhere and from all walks of life – often unnoticed. They work during the day and practice their art at night or on the weekend. A lot of this talent often stays in the closet so to speak – well all changed last September (2012) when Ottawa had its first ever Nuit Blanche – no it was not like New York or Paris but neither did it have to be, it was Ottawa’s and it was good! BRAVO and BRAVO-Est a small French artist group in Ottawa was behind this immense project and it initially had many critics. The critics were quickly silenced after the event when Ottawa came alive with over 30 000 visitors! The newspapers were full of positive comments like “on Saturday, any doubts were crushed beneath the feet of many small elephants.” by Peter Simpson of the Ottawa Citizen and “Nuit Blanche finally wakes up in Ottawa” (“Finie la grasse matinée. La Nuit Blanche s’éveille enfin à Ottawa !”) by Maud Cucchi from Le Droit. Nuit Blanche was a success and Nuit Blanche 2013 is already in the works. It became evident that artists here never “sleep” so to speak, in Ottawa. They came out of the closet and showed everyone how strong their PULSE really is! So for this first noise challenge I declare Ottawa Artist’s as Ottawa’s PULSE.
Above is a painting that I have created of the very region where the first ever Nuit Blanche took place in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. I have to admit this painting was not created during the week of this challenge but was done in January 2013 on a very cold day (-25 or more degrees!) from Mackenzie King Bridge. I was there because there was a call to artist to go and paint together outdoors in the cold Ottawa weather – proof that Ottawa Artists have a good strong and warm pulse!