Grand Bend set to show off new murals, sell old ones

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Executive director of the Grand Bend Art Centre Teresa Marie Philips is encouraging everyone to visit the Grand Bend to see all of the new artwork installed on the the Beach House. This painting is by Brian Normandeau. Photo shot in Grand Bend, Ont. on Wednesday July 28, 2021. Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

Calvi Leon/Local Journalism Initiative

New waves of art are hitting Grand Bend this summer, with 11 murals along the sandy shores of Lake Huron being taken down to make way for new ones.

“Public art is important to everyone; I don’t think we have enough of it,” Teresa Marie Phillips, executive director of the Grand Bend Art Centre, said of the rotating art display.

“When we put up permanent art, people tend to ignore it over time. But when you change it, you change the whole feeling. It’s kind of like when you buy a new piece of furniture; everything changes.”

The art centre first unveiled 15 murals at Grand Bend’s main beach in 2018 as part of the Beach House mural project, an art display where temporary pieces are featured in the community and later sold.

Now, 11 of the murals are being swapped out for new ones that match this year’s theme: “Our community, a place for all.”

“Our theme is about all being more alike than different . . . being connected and part of a global community,” Phillips said, adding the idea was driven by the pandemic.

New this year, the project will feature pieces from artists across the region, including St. Thomas, Toronto, and Sarnia, and as far as Montreal, Phillips said. Photographers are now in the mix, too.

“You’ll see a lot of diversity in these paintings this year and wildlife,” Phillips said. One mural features a photograph of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Chief Jason Henry and his wife and daughter.

The art centre had a budget of about $52,000 this year, and artists and photographers were paid between $3,400 and more than $7,000. Applications for artists to submit proposals for the 2024 display will open next year.

Until then, Phillips said, the centre wants to get businesses in the community involved in the interactive display.

“The original idea (behind the project) was for me to help paint the town. I was hoping local business owners would bid on the art and put them up in the town. Slowly, we could paint the town this way.”

The murals taken down Tuesday will be put up for sale at the Paint Ontario art show, running from Sept. 3-26 at the Lambton Heritage Museum. The live, in-person event marks Paint Ontario’s 25th anniversary, featuring more than 200 paintings selected from nearly 700 submissions.

For Phillips, the mural project is more than physical art. It’s about leaving a positive impact on people who view the artwork. “I want people to look at it, and I want it to make them smile. I also want little kids to be inspired to paint.”

To learn more about the Grand Bend Art Centre and the Beach House Mural Project, visit gbartcentre.com. For information about the Paint Ontario art show and sale, visit paintontario.com.

Source: London Free Press

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