Public Art is On the Menu: Enjoy Art Fresco in Waterloo Region!
There’s nothing quite like sitting around a table with family and friends and having great conversations over a delicious meal. Now, take that same table, have it painted by an exceptionally talented local artist, place it on one of our region’s fabulous patios, and you have the recipe for the Art Fresco Public Art Project.
Art Fresco picnic tables can be found on the patios of 50 participating restaurants throughout Waterloo Region. Each table is a unique tribute to this region, celebrating everything from festivals and fun adventures, to exploring our diversity and community.
Muralist Trisha Abe is one of the artists who participated in the Art Fresco project. “Public art is so nice for people to just ‘happen’ on,” she says. “I think it brings a lot to a space; it makes it more vibrant, more welcoming, and more safe. I think it’s a really nice surprise to just stumble upon art, in all different forms – even a picnic table.”
As a full-time artist, Trisha’s work features themes of diversity, which she would like to see more of in the Region, especially in the arts community. Her picnic table emphasizes diversity and femininity through continuous-line portraits filled in with black, brown, and tan skin tones. Trisha sees the Art Fresco project as a way of engaging people as they gather around the tables. “You’re dining at the art work, and the art becomes a conversation starter,” she says. You’ll find her table on the patio at Red House restaurant in Uptown Waterloo.
Maia Lynch is a 12 year-old artist from Waterloo who also participated in the Art Fresco project. She was inspired to create a piece that embodied a real celebration of Waterloo Region.
“I wanted to show one special thing or event from each area, like the historic buildings in Wilmot and Ayr, or the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival in Wellesley. And no celebration is complete without balloons and rainbows, so I painted those too!” Maia says.
Her mom was the one that saw the call for artists and suggested she submit, and Maia is happy she did. “I think it’s going to be really cool for people to just come up and sit on my table, and see all of my doodles and all the hard work I put into it. For me to create something and for other people to see it – it just makes me feel so good.” Maia’s table can be found at EJ’s Tavern at the Baden Motel.
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory was the recipient of a table painted by Anne Williamson. After the table was delivered, they welcomed Anne for a visit to the Conservatory.
“When we first saw the picnic table, we fell in love with the design. When Anne came to visit, we learned that the Conservatory was actually the inspiration behind her piece, and we feel even more honoured to host it here. It is a beautiful addition to our Café patio,” says Kaite Coté, head of Marketing at the Conservatory.
Kaite shared that the Conservatory is excited to be a part of such a unique community engagement initiative. “The Art Fresco Project is a neat way to invite the community to interact with creative art and feel united across the region. We’re excited to welcome visitors who might be on a cross-region picnic table tour and honoured to be part of those special memories.”
The table designed by Angela Grasse has found a new home at Grammy’s Boutique and Espresso Bar, a bustling little shop in downtown Wellesley.
Sherrie Kirby, the shop’s owner, says the table has been a welcome, colourful addition to their storefront and the township. “We have seen many customers use the space to chat with friends over coffee and a treat, or kids eating ice cream with their pups. Lots of people are taking pictures!” she says.
Angela’s table design was inspired by the rich quilting tradition that exists in Waterloo Region. For Angela, painting a picnic table with a crazy quilt design is a great way to call attention to this vibrant tradition. Sherrie agrees, saying “each morning as I’m setting things up outside the compliments come. It’s such a cool vibe in front of Grammy’s and the perfect design for the space!”
The Art Fresco Project embodies a celebration of Waterloo Region and honours the things that make Waterloo Region unique. Residents and visitors are invited to read the artists’ stories and inspirations (each table has a QR code to link visitors to the information).
Take a seat at the tables, start a conversation, enjoy a great meal, and make wonderful summer memories! You can share your experience on social media using the hashtag #ArtFrescoDining .