West End Art Project - Public Art Launch

West End Art Project - Public Art Launch
Posted September 25, 2020
Four new public art projects were unveiled today in the west end of Windsor, in the heart of Sandwich Towne. 

Working in partnership with Port Windsor, three new functional art projects have been placed in Queen’s Dock by local artists.  An additional fourth public art piece is now located at the Dominion House Tavern.  Through funding provided by the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan, the new pieces include two new picnic tables and wayfinding signs coordinated by local artists and the youth arts group, Vanguard Collective.
“These beautiful, creative additions to the Sandwich area demonstrate the strong sense of community pride that exists amongst its residents,” says Bryce Phillips, CEO of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
“We are continually inspired by the Sandwich community and are pleased to see the funding provided through the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan enhance the area’s gathering spaces.”
Based on the input of survey takers, which highlighted their desire for a functional art project, the following pieces were created:
The piece “All My Relations” represents “the history of Sandwich Towne as diverse as my family tree and the stories they all tell,” said the artist, Jessica Rachel Cook, who was born and raised on Windsor’s West End.
“I was born to a first-generation Canadian mom and an Anishinaabe dad.  My mother’s family were some of the first refugees in Essex County,” said Cook.
“I remember our house, eating cherries from our cherry tree in the backyard, walking to Schwab’s with my mom and sister, where the butcher gave us their famous hotdogs as a treat and walking my sister to Western Public school where she attended Kindergarten and grade one.  Our family picnics at Mic Mac Park under the beautiful giant trees when my brother was little are some of my favourite memories.”
The second piece, a directional signpost created out of skateboards from Sandwich Towne’s Bliss Skateboard Shop, is a symbolic gesture towards the next generation.  Each sign was designed by a member of the collective, painted with bright, eye-catching imagery inspired by parks, businesses, history and stories related to West Windsor. The signs included in this piece are RiverWest, Wyandotte Street West, Sandwich Towne, Riverfront Trail and Bridgeview.
“A key finding from the survey was that many of the survey respondents had difficulty identifying what area of the West End they were, in fact, from,” said project coordinator, Veronica Samek from Life After Fifty.
The hand-painted wayfinding map is the third piece, and second project coordinated by the Vanguard Collective. Each member of the collective desired to foster appreciation for a “part of the city that deserves recognition.” The map incorporates photographs from all around the west end, layered over top of an abstract, colourful map. Photographs were captured to showcase spaces based on their connection to West Windsor and the survey and poll results from residents that frequent this part of the city.
“Planting a map or sign in a high foot-traffic area aims to inspire travelers to explore! Vanguard is interested in how we can map the city, ensuring visitors and residents, alike, can discover the city for themselves while bringing well-deserved visibility to the communities in West Windsor,” said Vanguard President, Kristina Bradt, a visual artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from the University of Windsor.
“We hope that these pieces help future generations find appreciation for the various parts of Windsor’s west end that make it unique. Many young people find their start here – whether they grew up down the street from these places, like I did, or earned their education on campus and started a business later down the road.  The youth narrative was a voice we knew we needed to showcase for the future success, growth and appreciation of this area,” said Samek, who attributes her forward-thinking to the impact the Gordie Howe International Bridge will have on future generations, including the youth who contributed to this project.
The ultimate location for these pieces was chosen based on the nature of the projects and the opportunity for the public to experience them in a key west end neighbourhood.  Port Windsor’s Queen’s Dock property was the perfect community setting to host the majority of the work.
“We are pleased to partner with Life After Fifty in this project in support of the art community in Sandwich,” said Peter Berry, Director of Operations for the Windsor Port Authority. 
“We look forward to the community use of this art and are excited that is displayed within our Queens Dock Community Space.  This is part of our dedicated community support in Sandwich and are thankful for the opportunity to contribute”.
Since the project’s initial launch in March, the seven-month process gathered a variety of creative partners including youth members of the Science, Engineering, Art and Technology (SEAT) program hosted by Women’s International Skills and Training.   With ages ranging from 14-23, the group of women were challenged to consider the future of the West End in the next five years.
The final piece is a brightly coloured picnic table featuring monarch butterflies and wildlife found on the banks of the Detroit River now sits at the Dominion House, Canada’s oldest remaining, continuously run, tavern. Designed and coordinated by Kristina Bradt, this final piece is a solo project reflecting the creative submissions and descriptive writings from the SEAT participants, who are majorly from Windsor’s West End.
A virtual gallery and window display at Life After Fifty (635 McEwan Ave.) has been coordinated to display the majority of the work submitted, with individual pieces donated to members of the Sandwich Towne BIA - Sandwich Brewing Co. (3232 Sandwich Street), Buddie’s Tap and Eatery (3206 Sandwich St.) and Bliss Skateshop (3216 Sandwich St.)
“The grant provided to Life After Fifty through the Gordie Howe International Bridge Authority, Community Benefits Plan has been an exciting and positive project for our community.  Life After Fifty is proud to be a delivery partner of this beautification initiative,” Joyce Nixon, Executive Director of Life After Fifty.

Artist + Partners - Full Bios

Total number of contributing local creatives + artists by project completion: 17

Virtual Gallery of Community Submissions
Available Online: https://www.artsteps.com/view/5f5fcc65fefab519211386d3
Life After Fifty Window Display of Community Submissions
Location: 635 McEwan Ave.  Dates: Sept. 25 – Oct.2
Note: Please exercise caution while viewing the display, which is located on the West Side of the building along the Shopper’s Drug Mart entrance to the parking lot.

Additional Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan. The Plan’s Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy focuses on collaborating with stakeholders and community members through consultation to develop a community investment strategy based on identified priorities. The $20,000 funding was released to Life After Fifty in January 2020 to support the West End Art Project. Additional information is available at Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan
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