“A truly amazing community effort!”
The Pugwash Open Air Gallery (POAG), a cultural project under the umbrella of Pugwash Communities in Bloom, encourages the development of artistic excellence, stimulates awareness of, and interest in visual arts. This is accomplished through the acquisition and installation of an accessible outdoor art gallery, comprised of reproductions of artwork by local contemporary artists on the exterior walls of buildings in the village.
The installations are big and beautiful, adding to Pugwash’s commitment to supporting and celebrating the arts and expanding our heritage and cultural footprint. Featuring local artists, whose work has gone through an independent jurying process, Communities in Bloom is proud to be able to bring this initiative to our community.
Pugwash and The Pugwash Open Air Gallery received two Outstanding Achievement Awards from National CIB for Youth Involvement and Heritage Conservation in 2021.
- To encourage and support artistic creation in Pugwash and area.
- To stimulate public interest in visual arts by bringing art to the streets.
- To enhance the presence of art in the village.
- To raise awareness of Pugwash and area artists and their works and the value of the arts sector in our community.
- To foster tourism and attract customers to businesses in the village.
Planning for the project was initiated in 2019, including consultations with the Village of Pugwash, Communities in Bloom, local artists and businesses. Local artists were invited to submit up to three pieces of art. A jury of art professionals, tasked with scoring the 55 entries submitted by 19 artists, enabled the POAG Committee to create a short list for presentation to business owners hosting art on their buildings. The selected seven art works were reproduced on durable, lightweight Alu-panels and affixed to exterior walls of high-traffic buildings in late fall of 2020.
In the fall of 2020, conversations were initiated, and strategies established, for collaborations with educators in Cyrus Eaton Elementary and Pugwash District High School, as well as the administration of East Cumberland Lodge long-term care facility. The intent was to instigate the creation of art by youth and seniors in the community for Phase 2 of the POAG project. In January of 2021, Art Walkabouts, visiting the first seven installations were held with both schools to inspire the students. Artist Louise Cloutier mentored 22 grade three and four students for three months, to create a sculpture representing community, peace and belonging. Twenty-six visual arts students from PDHS submitted installation proposals which were then juried by artists, educators and student council members. Three submissions were selected for further development. An art piece was chosen to represent the high school by the end of May. A collaborative piece of art, created in the fall of 2019 in an Art Infusion Program with seniors of East Cumberland Lodge, was also chosen to represent seniors and be included in the new installations for the POAG project. The three Phase 2 installations were erected in the spring of 2021.
The Pugwash Open Air Gallery was officially launched in the summer of 2021, with a ceremony comprised of a walking tour with participating artists present to talk about their work. At the same time, an on-going marketing strategy was launched, including a new website, self-guided tour rack cards and other promotional materials.
In the fall of 2021, POAG was able to erect five more installations, for a total of 16, including work by local artists who either had been missed in Phase 1 or who work in a medium that was not represented in the gallery. Organizers are delighted that one of the installations is on the grounds of the historic Thinkers Lodge and one is in memory of Charles Langille who was a stalwart part of the fabric of Pugwash for many years.
In the summers of 2022 and 2023, POAG erected three more installations, for a total of 19. A Peace Sculpture in Eaton Park as part of Art in the Park in 2022 and the works of Mike Cole of Sunset Community at the Pugwash Farmers’ Market and Dorothy Bennett on the new Pugwash Library in 2023.
Art in the Park 2022
As part of the Pugwash Open Air Gallery initiative, CIB partnered with Pugwash HarbourFest to host ‘ART IN THE PARK‘ on July 30 in Eaton Park. The focus was on the joy of creating art and featured local artists and artisans and their creations. Activities included:
Art in the Park 2023
Art in the Park 2023 was held during Pugwash Harbourfest for the second year running. Components included:
Art on the Line Tent – Festival-goers of all ages were invited to let their creative juices flow in a free, safe, collaborative environment under a tent in the middle of the community festival. Predominately children and their parents took part in hands-on art-making under the guidance of artist volunteers; asked questions; learned techniques; tried new art mediums. Painting, collage, drawing and colouring large images of Eaton Park were included. Art was hung on clotheslines in the tent and youngsters rang a bell when finished to the cheers of the crowd.
Tie a Knot for Peace – This was the second year that the public was invited to ‘write a message for peace’ on colourful ribbons and tie them to a new steel Peace Sculpture in Eaton Park. This reinforced Pugwash’s history in the peace movement as well as enabled the public to participate in creating the art installation.
‘Art is All Around’ Scavenger Hunt – visitors scoured the village learning about the work of local artists included in the Pugwash Open Air Gallery and other points of interest, answering clues for a chance to win art-related prizes. Volunteers handed out Clue sheets, Info on Harbourfest and Communities in Bloom, and sold POAG Art Cards from Info Tent on Water Street.
Paint the Park – Ten plein air artists from as far away as Parrsboro, Prospect and the Eastern Shore scattered throughout Eaton Park to paint the landscape. The public were invited to see their works in progress and ask questions.
Peace Hall Art Show & Sale – the previously-created work of the plein air artists was on display and available for sale.
Silent Art Auction – the plein air art work was available to the highest bidders in the POAG Tent.
Phase 1 of the project was funded by the generosity of community donors, sponsors, local businesses, and a grant from the NS Beautification and Streetscaping program. Phase 2 was supported by grants from the Sheonoroil Foundation and a Wellness Grant from the Wallace, Wentworth, Pugwash & Area Community Health Board.
The POAG Committee hopes to build on the Open Air Gallery in coming years by bringing more art to the village. We hope this initiative will grow to join the Jean Wallace Art Gallery at the Pugwash District High School, the Pugwash Heritage Panels, Thinkers Lodge and the Peace Hall as landmarks that contribute significantly to tourism and pride in our village.