Arts & Culture

Highway of Discard — Photographs of Hwy 7 capture things we build & abandon

They are like photos of a lost civilization, the crumbling souvenirs of the past and a slower way of life. They are the sad architectural artifacts along Ontario’s Highway 7, the stretch from Carleton Place to Peterborough being the most familiar for Ottawa motorists.

For the past few years, Ottawa photographer Glenn Bloodworth has been poking around the abandoned buildings and backstories of crumbling gas stations, motels and restaurants along Highway 7, the road Ottawans took when travelling to Toronto before the four-lane speedways were constructed.

In Highway 7’s heyday back in the 1950s and 60s, vehicles were less efficient and drivers were required to stop more frequently for gas and oil. Families were bigger so there were more bathroom breaks and snack demands. As such entrepreneurs erected the necessary infrastructure along this route. The old Highway 7 stops had names like Wheel In Café, Hubcap Place, and the Blue Motel. These boarded up buildings, along with many others, have been photographed by Bloodworth and are on exhibition in the Arts Ottawa East offices in the Shenkman Arts Centre. The exhibition is titled Ephemeros: Highway of Discard.

The Blue Motel, Glenn Bloodworth

Bloodworth is a former public servant who, after retirement, returned to his old hobby of photography. He took a course at Algonquin and then took classes at the School for the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO), where he is currently artist in residence.

His first big project was photographing the defunct radar base in Foymount, in Renfrew County, west of Ottawa. Then he turned his lens on Highway 7. The next project is to capture old, abandoned industrial buildings in Cornwall, Brockville, and other Eastern Ontario communities.

“I got intrigued by the idea that we build things and then we abandon them,” said Bloodworth.

The exhibition continues until Oct. 11.

The Odyssey by the Quebec duo known as Cooke-Sasseville, outside the Canadian Museum of History

Three Pigeons and Some Soup

There is a Campbell’s tomato soup can about three metres high standing on a grassy area in Gatineau between the Alexandra Bridge and the Canadian Museum of History. Three pigeons, each the size of a horse, surround the soup can.

What’s that all about?

It is a cheeky installation called The Odyssey by the Quebec duo known as Cooke-Sasseville. The soup can is a nod to Pop Art and the late Andy Warhol. The inquisitive pigeons are stand-ins for us or, more specifically, the majority of us who have problems figuring out contemporary art.

The Odyssey is one of four startling art installations that arrived in the national capital area this summer, and will remain here until the fall of 2018, courtesy of the federal Heritage Department’s Art in the Capital program and the Quebec company Exmuro.

The other installations:

Solitary by Diane Landry, an 11-metre-high sculpture of a bell tower that also looks like a rocket ship about to blast off. It is located in the Byward Market in Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard;

Monumental Misunderstanding by Francis Montillaud, a series of sculptures of people doing crazy antics. The sculptures are in Gatineau at the junction of Laurier and the Portage Bridge;

Tipping Point by José Luis Torres; a sculpture uniting numerous colourful objects from daily life reflecting our tendency to collect objects of all kinds. It is located in Clarendon Court in the Byward Market.

These latter three installations will remain in the same place, year round, until the fall of 2018. The Odyssey, however, will move around the Ottawa-Gatineau downtown areas, starting this fall. Future locations have yet to be decided.

Coexistence No. 2, Judy Morris Dupont

Botanical Portraits

Don’t miss Tend, an exhibition of photographs of dried flowers by Judy Morris Dupont at Exposure Gallery. Dupont is one of those many talents being nurtured these days by SPAO on Dalhousie Street. Tend is Dupont’s first solo exhibition. Her still-life photos are superb.