Clinton back alley art submissions exceed Smith's expectations
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The response to the Clinton Back Alley Artist Extravaganza has exceeded all expectations, says Central Huron Community Improvement Co-ordinator Angela Smith, and another intake of art should be coming very soon.
Smith, in an interview with The Citizen, said she’s been blown away by the level of participation she’s seen for the project, which seeks to line a back alley in Clinton with submitted art pieces as the town prepares for its “big dig” of Main Street. The project will last between four and six months and will block most of the town’s main street during that time, resulting in many businesses having to use rear alley entrances.
When she put the call out, asking that people pick up a plywood panel and artistically make it their own to help beautify the alley, she said she hoped for 50 or 60 pieces, but realistically would have been happy with 20 or 30 pieces. However, to date, over 150 pieces have been picked up. Some have been returned, while others are still out, being worked on or waiting to be dropped off (drop-offs have halted during the province’s stay-at-home order).
Smith figures that people being at home without a lot to do has helped fuel participation in the project, which is great. She has seen pieces come in from children under one year old all the way up to those in long-term care homes.
While the uptake in the project has been phenomenal, Smith said the quality and the variety of the art being created is what has really impressed her. People of all ages and of all skill levels have been taking part and she says everything has been very impressive, whether it’s from someone picking up a paint brush for the first time or from a seasoned, veteran artist.
With the stay-at-home order still in place, Smith has had to press pause on picking up more of the art or holding another drop-off session.
Once all of the panels have been returned, Smith says she’ll be working with some local students, as well as members of Central Huron Council to install them in the alleyway.
Another aspect of the response that has impressed Smith has been the outreach from people outside of Central Huron. Pieces of art have been submitted from all over the province and there are still pieces that need to be dropped off that are with artists in London and Toronto.
There was no real theme for the art, Smith said, as she just asked people to create whatever they wanted. They could also use a number of different mediums as well to create an interesting mix of submissions.
Smith said she hopes the art will not just beautify the alley during the main street reconstruction, making it more inviting so stores can be accessed from their rear entrances during the roadwork, but she hopes it will turn it into a tourist attraction once it’s again safe to travel.