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Mural is puzzling view of east-end Barrie from on high

'I took a whole bunch of screenshots from Google Earth and stitched together a high-resolution image of the east end of Barrie,' says artist Andrew Maize

There’s evidently an art to mapping Barrie’s east end.

Alongside Eastview Arena, facing Grove Street, a 20-by-12-foot photo mural by artist Andrew Maize lays out the city’s Ward 1.

A print installed on an aluminum panel, Maize describes it as a puzzle, and so names it The East End (Puzzled).

“I took a whole bunch of screenshots from Google Earth and stitched together a high-resolution image of the east end of Barrie,” he said. “Then I used all the roads and pathways as the matrix for cutting up the puzzle, so it sort of gave me all the cutout marks for the different pieces.”

With that puzzle, which was 40 by 60 inches, Maize hosted an event right outside of the arena — inviting a couple of local members of the community, a student from Georgian College, and some students from Eastview Secondary School.

“We pieced the puzzle together and, during that puzzling, I took another 36 images from above to create a high-resolution photograph of them puzzling,” he said.

“And then I stitched all of those photographs back together to make — quote, unquote — a seamless image,” Maize said. “There’s a lot of areas where you can kind of see it break down, but that’s kind of interesting because Google Earth seems like a seamless map from above, but it’s actually stitched together from a whole bunch of satellite and aerial photographs.”

He said those points where it’s been stitched together can be seen, so viewers can see it’s a constructed image and not a natural one.

Maize said he started the mural in January and it was a learning process for him.

“In order to get it to that scale, I had to figure out a whole bunch of mathematical equations, camera distance … to get the image to the resolution that’s high enough so that when you are looking at the image you can actually see your house or see a tree,” he said. “You want to get all of that detail, so it was a bit of a technical, steep learning curve, but it was exciting.”

Ward 1 Coun. Clare Riepma said the idea for a mural came from community consultation.

“I think it’s kind of cool because a community is a bit like a puzzle, too,” he said. “The whole idea was to bring the road and the building together, to make it a focal point.

“Eastview Arena is kind of the centre of Ward 1, but this has always been a bit of a dark corner on the building.”

The mural cost about $5,000, Riepma said, and the money came from his community benefit fund. Each Barrie councillor gets $22,000 per term for community projects.

Maize describes himself as an artist whose playful and meandering research-based practice draws upon language, relationships and technology as catalysts for conversation.

He is currently working toward his master of fine arts at the University of Guelph.