City set to celebrate Carlisle Street public art project

Curtain Call by Lilly Otasevic

City of St. Catharines press release – The City of St. Catharines will officially celebrate the completion of its newest public art display – a metal sculpture inspired by the Two Row Wampum belt – during the third annual Celebration of Nations.

Curtain Call, designed and installed by artist Lilly Otasevic, was constructed earlier this summer outside the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Carlisle Street. The work of art, a painted aluminum sculpture of colourful oversized beads that follow a wavy shape similar to a wampum belt, was funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Canada 150 Program as a legacy component of Celebration of Nations, as well as the arts centre’s public art reserve. An unveiling, free and open to the public, will take place Friday, Sept. 6/2019, at 5:30 p.m., at the site of the installation.

“Curtain Call is a great addition to the downtown, a vibrant arts destination and cultural hub for our City,” said Kathleen Powell, acting supervisor for cultural services at the City. “It’s a vibrant, thoughtful piece that contributes to the character of the area and adds a voice to the discussion of cultural diversity, truth, and reconciliation.”

Otasevic says the work embodies historical and contemporary context of St. Catharines, reflecting what the City was and is about – cultural diversity, respect, togetherness, shared future goals.

“In my work process I am always in search of universal but simple – easy to understand – symbols that can convey complex multilayered messages,” said Otasevic. “The wampum belt and what it represents is precisely that – a powerful symbol that works on many levels and, in my opinion, transcends its cultural origins.”

She used the large colourful beads as a way to reflect demographic and cultural diversity.

“The randomness of colours represents the interconnectedness of different people from diverse locations in the world that came and became part of our contemporary social fabric,” explains Otasevic. “This is a continuously changing, organic dynamic.”

The artist will be sharing more about her inspiration for the creation of the piece during a free artist talk with Celebration of Nations artistic producer Tim Johnson on Saturday, Sept. 7/2019, at noon, in the Joy Williams Lobby at the arts centre.

In 2017, the City issued a nation-wide call to Canadian and Indigenous artists and creative teams for one of the largest public art projects it has ever commissioned. The history of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre site was to be considered within the design, including the use of St. Paul Street by Niagara’s First Peoples, the role of the second Welland Canal and as a past and present venue for theatre. Artists were asked to explore the themes of storied lands, meeting place and harmony within the context of performing and expressive arts.

Curtain Call was recommended to City Council by a panel with members of the local Indigenous community, the City’s Public Art Advisory Committee and staff from the City and FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. It was selected from four designs submitted from a shortlist of highly-respected artists from across Ontario.

Celebration of Nations was created as an Indigenous arts gathering to celebrate the diversity, creativity and resilience of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. First held in September 2017, Celebration of Nations continues as part of a vision of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Kakekalanicks and the City of St. Catharines to build on the philosophy of the Two Row Wampum that promotes all Nations walking together, in parallel, with respect, compassion and understanding to cultivate an inclusive community for a shared future. Information on this year’s event is available at www.celebrationofnations.ca.