This summer, a new type of festival has landed in downtown Ottawa; one that exists digitally, not physically.
This summer, a new type of festival has landed in downtown Ottawa; one that exists digitally, not physically.
Ottawa ARt City is an augmented reality art festival that is accessed through a locally designed iOS app called Hidelight. The app allows users to physically explore and visit a library of virtual art exhibits scattered around the city, created by various local art institutes from Ottawa.
App designer and artist, Paul Sharp, offers an original take on the use of technology for civic engagement with arts and culture during a time where mass social gatherings are discouraged.
When users load the Hidelight app, they will be presented with a map marked with local exhibits to be visited. Once within range of an art piece, users can use their camera to view the exhibit superimposed over the physical scene in front of them.
Users are also able to learn more about the virtual art pieces which have been submitted by the Ottawa School of Art, Ottawa Public Art, and the Ottawa Art Gallery.
Ottawa ARt City also encourages the contribution of local citizens by allowing them to upload their own content into Hidelight’s augmented reality. Users can add their own video, audio, and 3D models into virtual exhibit space to be explored by other visitors.
“Your phone is your ticket for this safe and futuristic festival,” writes Sharp on the Ottawa ARt City website.
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by digital information.
This technology is being used with Ottawa ARt City to virtually display art pieces at specific locations.
This merging of real and virtual worlds is often called mixed reality, an environment where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time.
Hidelight uses the user’s mobile device camera to overlay a digital reality over their physical setting. Virtual objects remain spatially proportional and present in augmented reality as users move around in their environment.
Virtual spaces and events have been growing in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but often lack spatial presence and compelling interactivity when being viewed from behind a screen. AR offers some solutions to these challenges in a time where physical spaces are not accessible to everyone.
Back in 2016, Niantic’s Pokemon Go took the world by storm, essentially overlaying a fantasy world over daily physical reality to create a gamified scavenger hunt for virtual assets. This fictional-reality approach to AR is but a single example of how physical and digital worlds can be merged to bring communities together in their local space.
With ever-present innovation in software and hardware, new possibilities for entrepreneurs and artists alike are on the rise. While many tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple are designing their own interfaces for interacting with mixed realities, Hidelight showcases a local artistic integration of the same technological fundamentals.
While the festival officially ran from July 10 to 18, the exhibits remain accessible through the Hidelight app on iOS devices. If you’re looking for a way to safely engage with local arts and culture while also getting a preview of the next wave of tech, Ottawa ARt City is a summer bucket list must.
This story also appears in Capital Current, the community news site run by Carleton University’s journalism program.
No city has more artwork than Paris and no city is more artwork than Paris. Ornamental building façades enliven every surface in every direction. Uncountable statues and memorials and fountains creating the world’s largest outdoor sculpture park. Eiffel’s dramatic, soaring, Modernist spire.
There’s so much art in Paris–much of it right out in the open–many visitors don’t even realize the masterpieces they bypass on their way to the museum or café.
Following the success of 2020’s “Art Hiding in New York,” Lori Zimmer returns with “Art Hiding in Paris” (November 29, 2022; Running Press), another insightful, bouncy tour of parks, cafés, side streets, churches, cemeteries, train stations, hotel lobbies and, in this case, cabarets, calling attention to compelling artworks typically overlooked across Paris.
Like a pair of massive spheres–each 20-feet across–commissioned by Louis the XIV.
A mural renovated in 2020 revealing, for the first time since Nazi occupation, Charlie Chaplin.
A sundial from Salvador Dalí.
Zimmer, a New Yorker, began spending large portions of each summer in Paris in 2017, a ritual she has continued through this year, 2020 being an exception. As soon as France began allowing U.S. tourists to return in June 2021, she was on one of the first flights back, her final push of researching and writing for this book.
Through all those previous summers and trips in between, however, Zimmer had been subtly preparing for “Art Hiding in Paris.”
“I would go to all this stuff anyway, that’s how I vacation, so it just made sense, if I’m (in Paris) and reading up on it anyway, I might as well start keeping tabs and writing about it just in case,” she told Forbes.com.
Tidy, easily fit into a backpack or large purse, “Art Hiding in Paris” serves as a travel companion for exploring the city, each entry including which arrondissement–neighborhood–artworks can be found in along with their addresses. A map and index help visitors stack multiple sites into single excursions. Zimmer has also put together a series of self-guided walking itineraries–“Left Bank Lunch,” “Montmartre Morning”–for travelers to make the most of their limited time.
Also returning from “Art Hiding in New York” for “Art Hiding in Paris” is Zimmer’s childhood friend, Maria Krasinski, whose watercolor illustrations of featured locales again add spirited whimsey and personality to the book, making it an artwork of its own.
In Woody Allen’s delightful homage to the city, “Midnight in Paris,” a time-traveling Owen Wilson finds himself in 1920s Paris partying with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, discussing literature with Ernest Hemingway, competing for a lover with Pablo Picasso and having his novel reviewed by Gertrude Stein. Paris is about art, true, but there is no art without artists.
In addition to pointing out artworks around the city, “Art Hiding in Paris” shares with readers places where they can commune with cultural icons from the past.
The art supply shop frequented by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and Van Gogh still furnishing brushes and paint. The cabaret where Loie Fuller and Josephine Baker danced. The historic square where Yoko Ono spread a handful of Keith Haring’s ashes. The studio where Picasso painted Guernica. The flat Theo van Gogh shared with his brother.
“Art Hiding in Paris” and the yearning it creates to visit the city hit high gear when detailing Paris’ numerous cafés, bars, restaurants and their legendary former patrons. An entire chapter is devoted to “Dining with the Masters.”
The bistro Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec invited Vincent van Gogh to join him in sipping absinthe. The brasserie where Diego Rivera, Hemingway and Amadeo Modigliani were regulars. Picasso’s studio was just nearby. The dance hall and open-air restaurant immortalized in one of Renoir’s greatest paintings.
Picasso, Modigliani, Hemingway, Man Ray, Max Ernest and their contemporaries frequented multiple establishments around town, “Art Hiding in Paris” points them out.
“I was inspired going to even the crappiest little café; I love that the ‘historic’ ones are still open, and they love their traditions,” Zimmer said. “They want (visitors) to connect to the past, and you’re also eating your meal, so it’s not just like going to the museum, it’s functional, but with the bonus of learning something and being able to transport to another time.”
“Midnight in Paris” for the rest of us.
A flâneur is a dandy. A fancy gentleman who walks–saunters–the city streets, typically alone, observing its people and rituals. An urban explorer. Parisian Édouard Manet was a classic Flâneur.
Modern-day flâneurs will cherish “Art Hiding in Paris” for how it privileges pedestrians, Zimmer, after all, is one.
“I love to walk around and just be by myself sometimes,” she says. “More than New York even, for some reason, when I’m in Paris, I rarely take the train and I’ll look at the directions and think, ‘Oh, it’s only an hour and a half walk.’ In my head I think that’s totally fine where anywhere else (that’s crazy).”
Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” was written about Paris and the adage remains true today. A never-ending feast for the eyes and ears and nose and mouth when experienced at street level, the sights and sounds and smells and tastes rich and intimate as only they can be on foot.
“Art Hiding in Paris” doesn’t work from the window of a tour bus–not at full capacity, anyway–this is a book for the pavement pounder, the curious, the slow traveler, the sidewalk savant, the look-arounder the flaneur.
“Most of the streetlights cast that kind of yellowish glow and it was the perfect lighting to write to,” Zimmer recalls of the book’s production. “I would walk like 10 miles in the morning checking everything and then write all night to that light–it was cinematic.”
Zimmer’s writing is concise and unpretentious, with a dash of humor. Take her description of the Paris opera house as, “dripping with sculpture, gilding, crystals and ornate sumptuousness… a temple of antiquated opulence.”
With art everywhere, her greatest challenge was editing.
“It was so hard to decide what to not include, that was the hardest part,” Zimmer said. “I tried to make it a mix of some recognizable (landmarks) and some that no one would know anything about.”
Marc Chagall’s resplendent and familiar fresco on the ceiling of the before-mentioned opera house is admired and photographed by tens of thousands annually; in “Art Hiding in Paris” it is preceded by a doorway carving sharing a medieval love story few ever notice.
“Paris has such a range,” Zimmer said of the city’s public artworks. “For the historical aspects of ‘(Art Hiding in) New York,’ that all happened basically after or during World War II, whereas Paris had a bunch of different periods like the Belle Époque and in between the two wars was when the Bohemian dream happened. The Paris book is more well-rounded.”
As for the most difficult question: New York or Paris?
“Because I’ve been in New York for 17 years, I’m ready for Paris because I feel like I’ve mastered New York and I haven’t mastered Paris and I love unfamiliarity,” Zimmer said. “There’s no place like New York, but Paris is a wonderful place to be alone, to research and work, and that’s the cycle I’m in in my life right now.”
New Yorkers, don’t despair, if you can’t get enough of Zimmer’s commentary on the Big Apple, she has written short essays about an empty NYC during the pandemic for a different book, this one from her significant other, Logan Hicks–himself an artist–and his new book, “Still New York.” It features over 100 photos of Hicks’ observations of an eerily empty New York during the lockdown.
For an “Art Hiding in Paris” Easter Egg from Krasinski, you’ll find an illustration of Zimmer, Hicks and a beloved pet cat on page 230.
Zimmer always intended for Paris to follow “Art Hiding in New York,” and while she’ll take a break from the series to work next on a completely unrelated title, she does hope to return to “Art Hiding” in the future. Where to next?
This month’s First Friday Peterborough art crawl, taking place on December 2, provides a wealth of opportunities to find unique locally made artwork for everyone on your gift list this holiday season while also supporting local artists. art organizations, and locally owned small businesses.
The free, self-guided, family-friendly art crawl takes place at various galleries, businesses, venues, and artist studios, with most exhibits located in the downtown core — including several at the Commerce Building at 129 1/2 Hunter Street West — and running from 6 to 10 p.m.
December’s art crawl also includes a fine art and craft show just across the Hunter Street Bridge in East City. “8 at the Guild” takes place from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Peterborough Theatre Guild (364 Rogers St.) and features functional ceramics by Thomas Aitken and Kate Hyde, glass works by Christy Haldane, one-of-a-kind cards by painter Bea Quarrie, scratchboard originals by Lisa Martini-Dunk, glass works by Susan Rankin, original paintings and prints by David Smith, glass jewellery by Kira Robertson, and original paintings by Diana Collins Wilkes.
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Also new to First Friday Peterborough this December is an outdoor winter market running from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Commerce Building Square (29 1/2 Hunter St. W.). The market features poetry, live music, hot beverages and treats, and artworks and gifts. Vendors include Kit Coffee, Jeff Macklin of Jackson Creek Press, Third Circle Ceramics, Cheek, Juli Sage, Bethany Davis, Miguel Hernandez Autorino, and Marcia Watt.
Studio 5 at Heather Doughty Photography (129 1/2 Hunter St. W.) is hosting a pop-up art show from 6 to 9:30 p.m. featuring landscape and abstract art by Andrew Zahorouski and Donna Bolam, live storytelling by Hermione Rivison, and selected unframed prints from photographers showcased in past SPARK Photo Festival themed juried exhibits. The SPARK print sale accepts cash and onsite e-transfer only, with all proceeds supporting SPARK programming.
Along with the pop-up art show, you can also browse the current exhibit at Studio 5: a collection of fine art in oils, acrylics, watercolours, charcoal, pastels, and photography by
Arne Roosman, James Matheson, Hannah Spinney, Nancy Simmons Smith, Anita Murphy, Heather Doughty, Freddie Towe, Henry Gordon, Leilah Ward, and John Maris.
Artspace (3-378 Aylmer St. N.) is hosting its first annual holiday market from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday. Vendor artists and artisans include Linda Patterson of Arts of Delight (dolls), The Fanciful Hooker (textiles), DawnMoon Studio (earrings), Cedarlilie Beads (beadwork), Timothy Laurin (sculptural jewellery), Kathryn Durst (illustration), and Elizabeth Popham (acrylics and photographic decoupage). Other participating vendor artists and artisans include Rob Niezen, Haille Dockery, Summer Roads, Bethany LeBlonc, Kelly King Mosaics, Walnuts and Wonders, and Fairy Island Fibres.
As the holiday market is also a fundraiser for low-barrier arts programming in Artspace’s new Maker Space, entry is by donation ($3 recommended). Artspace will also be selling raffle tickets for a basket filled with local art and handcrafted goodies. If you can’t make it to First Friday, the market continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, which also will feature a free art-making workshop from 12 to 4 p.m. in the new Maker Space. Drop in and make an ornament with facilitators from Creating Space Peterborough.
Note that masks are mandatory for all vendors, volunteers, and patrons during the holiday market.
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The Art School of Peterborough (178A Charlotte St.) is also hosting a holiday art market from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday, featuring works by various local artists. If you can’t make it to First Friday, the market continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
If you’re interested in body art, you’ll want to drop by Riverside Tattoo & Skate Shop (127 Simcoe St.) on First Friday to check out the gallery of tattoo flash, paintings, prints, custom goods, and clothing featuring six artists from Riverside Tattoo (Stephen Shaw, Olivia Chessman, Cole Curtis, Kris Manbeck, Jesse Owen, and Emma Thompson), three artists Kent Street Tattoo in Lindsay (Corrie Worden, Danielle Poir, and Ainsley Worsley) and two artists from Take Care Tattoo in Port Perry (Jennifer Lawes and Jessica Channer).
Here are some of the other shows and exhibits taking place during First Friday Peterborough:
For more information about First Friday Peterborough, visit firstfridayptbo.com.
Those walking along Gottingen Street in Halifax can now step into an art space created to honour civil rights activist Viola Desmond.
The Viola Desmond Experience was created by artist Marven Nelligan and was unveiled last week.
It is part of the Viola Desmond Legacy Art Project committee, created a few years ago to commemorate Desmond’s life before she became known for her activism.
Desmond, a Black beautician and businesswoman, was arrested in 1946 while watching a movie in the whites-only section of the theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.
The exhibit is located right between The Braiding Lounge and Blue Collar Barbershop. Onlookers are often seen stopping and taking photos.
The space has a large mirror on the wall facing the street. The floor has an adhesive covering that looks like wood.
The wall has a picture of Desmond looking on while women chat, get their hair washed, and read The Clarion, Nova Scotia’s first and only Black newspaper.
A dresser painted on the wall has a photo of Desmond and her sister, Wanda Robson, who championed her sister’s legacy.
There is a salon chair in the middle of the exhibit. Visitors are welcome to take a seat.
“A lot of people don’t really know the achievements of Viola Desmond and the things that she accomplished through her career long before she was a civil rights icon,” said Nelligan.
He said the group is also working to add a virtual component to the exhibit. Participants will be able to scan a QR code and see a lookalike of Desmond behind them sharing her story.
“She was an entrepreneur, she was a businesswoman, she was a Black businesswoman, she made products, she was a manufacturer, she was an educator,” said Tara Taylor, who owns The Braiding Lounge and is on the art project committee.
“So, she not only learned her craft, she taught her craft to other Black women in the community. And that’s what we want people to remember her for.”
Taylor said she was proud to see the space open right beside her business. Desmond’s original salon was nearby.
“I’m extremely inspired by what she did in her community at the time,” said Taylor.
“Back then she was pretty much considered almost a millionaire. And so I just want to embody all of the things that she meant to her community.”
Taylor said the committee plans to share the virtual experience with New Glasgow.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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