Public Art Galleries
When the Nova Scotia town of Yarmouth installed public art on Main Street, locals complained. Some locals. Others were grateful to town leaders working hard to invigorate what was not long ago a decidedly drab downtown, emptied out like so many others by malls and big box stores. On a recent visit as part of the Travel Media Association of Canada, I came to enjoy them immensely. As a traveler and a travel writer/photographer, public art draws me to towns and cities around the world and encourages me to linger. Outdoor galleries like the one in Yarmouth provide travelers with one of the best free activity opportunities. They distinguish a place from all the other towns and cities on the planet and make it memorable.
Yarmouth’s outdoor gallery consists of murals, newly painted heritage buildings and parts of a deconstructed lobster car installed on bumpouts, small platforms between the sidewalk and the street. A lobster car is a structure used to store lobsters in the water before they go to market. Southwest Nova Scotia is the lobster capital of the world, the source of more lobster than anywhere else. Each piece is painted a bright colour and shelters painted wooden chairs next to a healthy flowering garden. They are so interesting and original, they recently won a National Urban Design Award.
And yet, many find them annoying. Because they take up part of the street, some of those who have to live with them complain they block traffic and views of traffic for drivers and pedestrians. For this reason, some warn of impending accidents. Others completely get the benefits of such works of art or, in this case, contemporary design elements.
Lots of towns and cities around the world, across Canada and all over the Atlantic Provinces are building outdoor galleries of public art. Local leaders and artists see the benefits. They know travelers like me will come looking for them. In a recent article, I wrote about the best of these public art galleries on Canada’s East Coast. Towns and cities like Montague PEI, Shediac New Brunswick, Halifax Nova Scotia and St. John’s Newfoundland have created the best of the best public art galleries. It’s time to add Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to the list of Atlantic Canada’s best outdoor art galleries. Apologies to those who prefer smooth running traffic.