Bayfield, Ont. ‘s first public art installation adds a massive splash of color to the town | Pro IQRA News

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The town of Bayfield, Ont., is getting a giant splash of color with its first-ever public art installation.

The two-story mural on the side of the Bayfield Community Center and Arena along Jane Street was the design of Meaghan Claire Kehoe, an artist, illustrator and muralist selected by a committee of local residents and businesses.

“The committee here was very helpful in helping me understand the atmosphere they wanted to go for, which was important to them when they were trying to represent their town,” Kehoe said. “And from there, looking around and popping into shops, seeing the beach, I came up with the idea.”

The main character of the mural is a great blue heron, standing tall against the background of the sun setting on Lake Huron. A beautiful array of colorful clouds blend into a bouquet of native sweetflowers that draw the eye to a wayfinding sign pointing to the town’s main street.

A mural on the side of the building shows a great blue heron surrounded by blue, purple and pink colors.
The first public art installation in Bayfield, Ont., was started on August 22 by Meaghan Claire Kehoe. It is painted on the side of the local community center and arena along Jane Street. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

“The palette is very inspired by the sunset that you can see from, like Pioneer Park in Bayfield. When you go down there and watch the sunset, it can be absolutely stunning,” she said. “The pink, the peaches, the purple, the blue of the water. And I really wanted to draw on all those really warm sunset colors and let them come through in this piece.”

Kehoe started the painting on August 22 and says the attention she has received has been overwhelming.

“I’ve been all over southern Ontario, staying in different small and bigger towns, and Bayfield has been so incredibly welcoming,” she said.

“Everyone stops and gives me a thumbs up or asks me questions, and no one holds back from telling me how much they love it here, that’s for sure.”

The painting is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

The mural on the side of the Bayfield Community Center and Arena will point visitors to the town’s main street from Jane Street to Charles Street. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

The mural was made possible by federal funding secured by the County of Huron, which supports six public art projects across the region. The Bayfield Center for the Arts was the first to get their installation off the ground.

“I’m personally really, really excited about it,” said Leslee Squirrell, president of the Bayfield Center for the Arts.

“Part of the purpose of the mural is not only to be a beautiful piece of art, but it’s also to help people know how to get to Main Street… Go past this big arena and if they turn right into Charles Street, is it” I’ll take them straight to our beautiful heritage Main Street for shopping and restaurants.”

Squirrell said part of the reason the mural isn’t on the main strip is because of its heritage status.

“Bayfield’s Main Street is actually a heritage district and as such murals will not be allowed to be painted on historic buildings,” she said.

WATCH | Check out Bayfiled, Ont. s first public art installation:

Bayfield’s first public art installation

A mural being painted by Meaghan Claire Kehoe on the exterior of the Bayfield Community Center & Arena is the first public art installation in town.

A call for public art in the country

Rick Sickinger is an economic development officer for the County of Huron, and was instrumental in obtaining federal funds for the project.

“One of the things we heard a lot from our communities while we were in lockdown the previous two years was a huge demand for public art, and I don’t know if that’s because we couldn’t go to cultural events or if it was because more people spent time walking around their communities and looking at the places they were going,” Sickinger said.

The county put out a call for interest from artists in July, with the goal of securing all the projects for this summer.

Five other murals are in the works for Clinton, Exeter, Goderich, Seaforth and Wingham. Some of the murals will be completed in the spring of next year.

The mural project will also be transformed into a digital interactive called the Virtual Public Art Trail.

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