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Brightening Barriers adds splash of colour to downtown patios

'It’s taking it off the gallery walls… and out into the community,' artist says of public art rpoject

A screen print of flowers accented with hand-painted elements surrounds the patio of a downtown Barrie restaurant in the city’s latest effort to bring art to the people and help brighten up the places they like to go to.

It is part of a public art display featured on nine restaurant patios in Barrie's downtown. The temporary art installations are part of the Brightening Barriers public art project, which pairs local and regional artists with business owners.

“It puts art in the community for people to see,” says Tamara Benoit, who is part of PRNT Collective, which created Garden Party that adorns Michael & Marion’s patio on Bayfield Street. “It’s taking it off the gallery walls… and out into the community.”

The Brightening Barriers project was organized by the Barrie Public Art Committee, a working group whose goal is to enhance Barrie with art and encourage visits to public spaces.

The project’s goal is to add ambience to patio season, which has been embraced in the city’s core, says Carol-Ann Ryan, the city’s public art co-ordinator.

The exhibit continues through to the end of September.

And it builds on a project launched last year with some of those pieces once again being exhibited.

“The exhibit animates the downtown corridor with points of interest along Dunlop and Collier streets,” Ryan says.

Benoit created the flower design with two other artists from the collective  Tim Laurin and Kim Brett  through the print-making process, which was originally developed to create multiple prints.

But it also creates a very different kind of mark.

The process began by finding material that could withstand the outdoors. Wood panels typically found in billboards proved a good start. When it came time for paint, Ryan explained the best option, the group discovered, was outdoor house paint.

Check out the installations at:

Bohemia  Why We Knit by Tracey Anne Martin

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Compliment Clouds by Petra Victoria

Groovy Tuesday's Bistro – How it Rolls at the Pond by Rod Prouse (from 2021 exhibit)

Kenzington Burger Bar – It's a Dog's Life by Christina Luck (from 2021 exhibit)

McReilly's Pub – Peace by Neda Mazhab Jafari

Mexhico  Sweet Moves by Katie Green

Michael & Marion's – Garden Party by PRNT Collective

North Country — The Land Between Rama and Barrie I & II by The Birdbath Collaboration (from 2021 exhibit)

The North  North Winds by Amy Bagshaw

The Brightening Barriers project was sponsored by a number of local businesses and individuals and the artists were compensated for their work.

The city has offered guided tours of the Brightening Barriers exhibit, and plans to offer more in the coming months.