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Take an Art Tour Through Oshawa

While the City of Oshawa forges ahead with a new planned art park in the downtown area, it's worth checking out the existing art available to the public. Murals and sculptures are very much part of the City’s landscape, and one can plan an enjoyable art walk as many are within an easy stroll of each other, and many have an interactive QR code.

There are two temporary murals on display, one at the South Oshawa Community Centre (S.O.C.C.) and the other at Northview Community Centre, so it is best to start the walk soon if you want to view these pieces.

Jon Colwell’s ‘Stay True’ is at the S.O.C.C. and explores the tension he experiences as he straddles his identity as an Indigenous person and an artist. 

"One Fish Two Fish" by Meaghan Claire Kehoe
"One Fish Two Fish" by Meaghan Claire Kehoe

Muralist Meaghan Claire Kehoe, whose colourful pieces can be seen in Toronto and London, has a piece titled ‘One Fish Two Fish’ at the Northview Community Centre. The mural was inspired by Dr. Seuss and celebrates the freedom to dream and to create. 

In the Downtown core, several murals were commissioned in the late 1990s, and some were created by a local graffiti crew led by Chad Tyson and his Paint Factory team. 

Murals include ‘Oshawa 1935’  at 23 King St.W., created by father-son team Dan and Peter Sawatzky; ‘Full Steam Ahead’ by Gus Froese at 64 Simcoe St. N. is a collage celebrating the history of Oshawa and the Oshawa Carriage Works. The mural depicts one of Oshawa Carriage Works' cars, a 1924 McLaughlin Buick.

One of Robin Burgesse's incredible murals located downtown Oshawa on the former bus depot.
One of Robin Burgesse's incredible murals located downtown Oshawa on the former bus depot.

At 47 Bond St. W., ‘Oshawa's Development (Historical Industry and Development)’ by Robin Burgesse includes panels showing scenes from three of the City’s influential companies: Warren Mills, Williams Piano Factory, and the McLaughlin Carriage Company. Also at 47 Bond St. W. ‘General Motors of Canada’ by John Hood and Victorian Order of Nurses - 100th Anniversary by Robin Burgesse. 

There are so many more, all speaking to the city’s heritage with sports via Northern Dancer and the Generals, its engine of commerce, and its military history by way of Camp X and its association with the James Bond spy novel series.

Sculptures include "Group Portrait 1957" by famed artist and author Douglas Coupland on the facade of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. This is a tribute to the gallery’s collection of works by the abstract expressionist group the Painters Eleven. The gallery itself was designed by architect Arthur Erickson and is well worth a visit for its own reasons. Across from the Gallery is Upstart II, a 25-foot-tall aluminum sculpture created by Clement Meadmore in 1987 and installed at City Hall in 2012.

River Tree/Bench by Reinhard Reitzenstein located at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery
River Tree/Bench by Reinhard Reitzenstein located at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

At the rear of the RMG lies River Tree/Bench by Reinhard Reitzenstein and Crown by Douglas Bentham, while in front of the Gallery sits ‘Grace’ by Mary Anne Barkhouse. The three beavers resting on a slab of Canadian Shield granite represent the ancient goddesses of Beauty, Mirth and Good Cheer. 

Cheering is the subject of ‘Reverb’ by the late Noel Harding. The amphitheatre-like sculpture at the Tribute Communities Centre contains lights triggered by the crowd inside via an overhead microphone. While many public artworks in Oshawa are specific to the artist’s own voice or view, this one by Harding turns the voices heard in Oshawa into art. 

So, as you tour, maybe leave this one until the end. Explore the innovators and business leaders of the City’s past via the murals, and then stand and absorb the voices of everyday folks in Oshawa as they are now. 

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