In a nod to its history, natural features, and local artists, the Township of Oro-Medonte unveiled seven art trees in Craighurst Wednesday afternoon.
The Craighurst Public Art Project comes on the heels of a $40,000 grant through the federal government’s My Main Street Community Activator program, which aims to revitalize and build the vibrancy of neighbourhoods and public spaces.
Located throughout the village, the seven-foot tall trees feature artwork designed by local artists selected through a juried competition.
Local artists, politicians, and community members gathered at Loobies Restaurant in Craighurst to commemorate the new artwork.
Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said the art pieces showcase the beauty found throughout the township, and will help contribute to tourism and raising people’s spirits during the transition out of COVID-19.
“Whenever you go to a community when you're visiting, I’ve found that, yes, there's historic stuff, but when you see art that's what you really pay attention to,” Hughes told OrilliaMatters. “It kind of lifts your spirits, and that's what we really need during this recovery time from COVID.”
Hughes said each of the trees reflect the township between Orillia and Barrie.
“When you go around and look at these trees, you'll find out there's a piece of Oro-Medonte in every one of them, so people who stop here and enjoy Craighurst will also realize what other things there are to see in Oro-Medonte.”
Artist MJ Pollak based her art tree off of wildlife and nature in the area, inspired by her own photography.
“When I saw the call for artists and something to do with Oro-Medonte, I immediately thought about the wildlife and nature that's available to us,” she explained.
Pollak, who has previously worked on displays with Orillia’s Streets Alive program, said that putting art in public places adds value for artists, visitors, and community members alike.
“I think it adds a lot of pleasure, just general pleasure, but also I think artists in the community add a lot to the whole atmosphere of a community, and we should encourage them,” she said. “It also does make it attractive for other people coming in.”
Loobies owner Jennifer Richardson, who has an art tree installed outside her restaurant, said she thinks the project will help draw customers into Craighurst businesses, adding the art trees are a great way to show off local talent.
“It's always great to have people stop and to take photos of any business or project in the area. I think it's definitely going to be a big help,” she said. “We have a lot of local artisans in the area, and this is a great way for them to be able to display that because not everybody knows about it either.”