The Creative Airdrie Society unveiled its plan for an art project in the city’s core, Nov. 25.
The Main Street Project is at the former site of the Old Hotel on Main St. and Centre Ave. and currently has 30 blank billboards wrapping around it. All the boards were spoken for in short order and people will begin creating a four-foot by eight-foot designs on them.
When finished, the colourful boards will be put on display at the site. Among the participants are businesses, sports teams and community groups.
“Studies have shown that having art in the public realm helps to mitigate things like vandalism,” said Michael McAllister, community developer with the City. “I know there’s an arts movement in the community.”
Project creator Sherry Shaw-Froggatt is glad to see interest in the project and has high hopes for the finished product.
“There is no limit to what can be designed,” said Shaw-Froggatt. “I’d personally love to see lots of youth involvement, especially teens.”
Each billboard will have a solid grey line weaving throughout it, tying the many projects together.
“Everyone has to work with the grey line and when the boards are all complete and placed up on Main Street, it is like a puzzle or mosaic,” said local artist and co-chair of the Creative Airdrie Society Veronica Funk. “The grey line represents the pathways of Airdrie and is a visual metaphor for connecting our community.”
Funk said the city doesn’t have a large arts community but she feels a shift coming with the project.
“Airdrie hasn’t been a place to typically showcase art, whether it’s personal or public,” she said.
“I think there’s a huge desire for a change in Airdrie.”
Michelle Pickering, art coordinator for the project, agrees with Funk.
“Airdrie has a lot of possibility to be way more than what it is right now,” she said. “I think we have an opportunity to make it what we want it to be.”
Many community groups and businesses are involved in the project including Fatboys Renovations, Fulton’s Home Hardware and Sign Concepts. Calgary-based developer Qualico Communities is providing financial support for the project.
“Qualico has been amazing,” said Shaw-Froggatt, “They get it. They understand that a vibrant city comes from a vibrant arts and culture community. We are so pleased to continue our relationship with their team.”
“It builds pride and ownership in the community,” said McAllister. “There can only be positive things that come from it.”
The boards will be given out starting in January and will be displayed starting in May.