70 King in downtown Oshawa will become the canvas for Jenn E Norton’s artful projections during the city’s debut Convergence Festival on September 23, 2023. Norton, now a resident of Guelph, was born in Oshawa and says its creative community enhanced her time while living here.
“The art and music scenes in Oshawa enriched my adolescence, so I am thrilled to be part of Convergence to engage with the vibrancy of the downtown area. It seems like Convergence is a great way to shine a light on the creative efforts of Oshawa, and I am delighted to be part of that celebration. When Convergence was announced, a lot of friends living in Oshawa contacted me to let me know that they were coming, so it will also be a reunion for me.”
Norton says her multimedia video projections on the former Genosh Hotel will speak to the city’s
progression from its former position as Canada’s automotive manufacturing hub.
“I will be using video projection to look at the history of 70 King and how it has transformed and, by extension, how Oshawa has changed along with it. My approach is pretty visual and imaginative, so the history is represented in an animated, free-flowing manner, playing with scale and the existing
architecture,” she says.
The Hotel opened in 1929 at the height of Oshawa’s status as the headquarters for GM Canada and
became the place for the affluent and well-to-do to stay over, including Queen Elizabeth, wife of King
George VI in 1939, author Roald Dahl, and possibly Ian Fleming, author of the Bond series. But over
the interim years, the building has had a chequered past, housing a fine restaurant through to a rock
club, to a strip club, and most recently, luxury rental units.
70 King is one of many recently completed projects in the revitalization of the city’s inner core. Another luxury rental building, 80 Bond, has opened. Trent University Durham GTA has a new home on the four corners. Bond St. Events company has opened a new entertainment centre in the former CAW Hall. A new public park is set to open, and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery has rejuvenated its outdoor “backyard” with gardens and an outdoor stage.
The Gallery has figured in Norton’s career as well. She was invited to exhibit work in 2018.
“When I was invited by (senior curator) Linda Jansma, it was incredibly meaningful to me. To be recognized by such an institution in your hometown is a humbling experience, and I was grateful for
the career changing opportunity the RMG granted me by partnering with the Kitchener-Waterloo Art
Gallery to tour the exhibition across Canada with a beautifully published catalogue, which introduced
my work to a lot of people. The RMG is doing innovative programming with the community in mind,
creating opportunities for many people in the Durham area,” she says.
Innovation, too, is at the core of Norton’s work in a variety of media. She has collaborated on several
projects with Guelph-based musicians, including a silent music video with Steph Yates, and is producing new video work for ex-Constantines singer Bry Webb.
“My approach to music videos is intuitive - I listen to the song and try to let the music tell me what to
make. Sometimes, that takes me to strange places! I have been so lucky to have such trusting friends because trying to describe what I will create always sounds bananas. Sometimes, the musician and I are not in the same room at any point in the production, and other times, we shoot over several days together. I have begun shooting videos with my friend and colleague from Queen's University, Ryan Randall, and have just formed our production company, Fovea. Working with friends is pretty magical, and I am lucky to have such great ones.”
And the City of Oshawa is lucky, too, to have Jenn back home among her friends and family here for
what will be a pivotal experience of the Convergence Festival.