The galleries and museums are closed. Yes, we know that. What to do in the meantime? Take a walk? That is what this writer did. In the course of a few sunny days, my walk took me along Mann Avenue, Range Road, Wilbrod Street, and a bit of King Edward Avenue.
What fun at the outset to find a jungle gym coloured red, yellow, blue, standing tall in the yard at Viscount Alexander Public School, 55 Mann Avenue. The children attending Viscount Alexander are in the primary grades. Red, yellow, blue are the primary colours of the paint box. All other pigments are built from them. Remember Blue + Yellow = Green?
Lesson learned, and seen. Colour and line are the basics of visual art. Your writer decided to walkabout looking for red, yellow, blue. Add in black, white line, too.
Artist Claudia Salguero and the Viscount Alexander students know their colours well. In 2018, they designed and painted a large mural on the outside wall of their school. Entitled “Diversity,” the mural presents the face of a multi-coloured figure surrounded by the clasped hands of friendship, and the graceful curving lines of storytelling, art, music. In this setting, the bright yellow storage bin underneath their mural becomes a sculpturally grounded accent.
Several good examples of the direct use of colour and line can be seen in seven storefronts along Mann, between Chapel and Blackburn. At both corners, red, white, blue colours denote the location of the Canada Post box at Blackburn, and Sandy Hill Cleaners at Chapel. Four storefronts use but one colour for their signs. The Quickie, for example, uses red; Mirage Café yellow. Jerkies Chicken, however, proclaims its delights in green and red. Next door, Sugar and Slice is the place for ice cream and pizza. Its sign is bedecked with a jolly figure dressed in red, yellow, blue.
The colours red, yellow, blue are visible markers. At the corner of Range Road and Mann, for example, is a house with a blue door. It faces a house with a red door. Their colours are easier to see than their house numbers, 250 and 245 Range Road, and easier to remember, too.
Currently long, long white hoses are snaking along both sides of Range Road. They are accented by small yellow flags marking here, there, wherever. In this setting, yellow and blue fire hydrants are as colourful as lawns of blue scylla in bloom. Lana Doss of The Fine Gardener was seen cheerfully using her bright yellow rake to ready the gardens of 100 Range Road. Is Charybdis far away? Two blue chairs await at 88 Range Road, a sculpture of a monster on its step, and the noise of a loud, barking dog within.
In past summers, myth and story abounded outdoors in Strathcona Park. This year the performances of Odyssey Theatre and the Company of Fools will be sorely missed. Where now to find a bit of drama? Take a look at yourself crossing the bridge over the Rideau. Make a face, wave, take a picture. Ken Emig’s reflective sculpture installation on the bridge provides bicyclist and pedestrian alike the chance to see and be seen. Entitled “View from Two Sides,” 2016, the sculpture’s large spheres are worth multiple looks.
Not too far away in the park, the children’s play area makes good use of leftover stone architectural finials. Here, too, is another storytelling area of grand possibilities. Range Road reaches its north end at Laurier Avenue. There sits the grand facade of the Cordon Bleu, a stucco building trimmed in blue, but of course!
Along Wilbrod Street are a number of interesting colour and line juxtapositions. The windows of Happy Goat Café at 317 Wilbrod are filled with a tumble of storytelling lines. One might imagine the conversation of people talking in a neighbourly manner about the state of the world near and far. The interlaced black line of the café is the same black line we see in the gate fronting 386 Wilbrod. On the doorstep, the large urn tells us in vino veritas, a truth many know.
Further along Wilbrod, the angled straight lines at the corner of 373 Wilbrod might beckon the traveller to stay on the straight and narrow.
The vibrant colours of the LaTeranga African Cuisine restaurant at 332 Wilbrod, however, impart a different story. The restaurant displays the red, green, yellow flag of Sénégal on its porch. In the Wolof language of Sénégal, teranga denotes the quality of warmth, of welcoming acceptance. In other words, “Come in, sit down, have something to eat, what do you like? have more, stay awhile.” This being Ottawa, a blue snow shovel is tucked away on the side of the porch, just in case.
Walking towards King Edward, one might see a slender female torso, tucked shyly beside the porch at 240 Wilbrod. It is the work of Jeanne Vaillancourt, and entitled “One foot ahead,” 2005.
Then, turning the corner onto King Edward Avenue, and greeted once more by yellow and blue fire hydrants and red garbage bins, do stop and take a moment to look at the quiet blue and white art deco detailing of 545 King Edward. Colour and line brought you here, too. Colour and line will make tomorrow clearer, also.
Photos by Hélène Lacelle