Art boxes return

“Time Stops” pieces al­lowed on util­ity poles in Water­loo

Waterloo Region Record - - Front Page - LAURA BOOTH

WATER­LOO — Six months af­ter by­law of­fi­cers had lo­cal artist Paul Ro­orda re­move his art pieces from util­ity poles in Water­loo, he man­aged to get them back up again.

For May and June, Ro­orda has per­mis­sion from the city to hang 16 of his “Time Stops” art pieces on util­ity poles in dif­fer­ent parts of Water­loo. Cur­rently, 14 of those pieces are up in the Mary Allen neigh­bour­hood.

“I’m re­ally happy to see all the work up again,” said Ro­orda, a res­i­dent of Water­loo who was Kitch­ener’s artist in res­i­dence in 2007.

Each of the “Time Stops” are dis­played in old metal cash boxes that have had their tops re­placed with glass. In­side each locked box are vin­tage items, in­clud­ing post­cards, pho­tos of flood­ing or weather fore­cast­ing, old clocks, barom­e­ters, vials of wa­ter and col­lages.

The aim of the mini galleries is to send a

sub­tle, po­etic and cryptic warn­ing about cli­mate change, said Ro­orda.

“So if (peo­ple) are walk­ing in the rain or if they’re walk­ing in the heat of a heat wave, they’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the weather and look­ing at the Time Stop boxes, which are a gen­tle warn­ing about the cli­mate chang­ing,” he said.

All the art pieces have a windup mu­si­cal el­e­ment and, more re­cently, a small la­bel in­side the boxes in­di­cat­ing it is an art project. The la­bel also shares a web­site where peo­ple can learn more about the artist and get a map of all the box lo­ca­tions.

The boxes didn’t al­ways have the iden­ti­fy­ing la­bels.

Last Oc­to­ber, Ro­orda got a visit from po­lice and by­law of­fi­cers ask­ing him to re­move his art from util­ity poles in the Mary Allen area be­cause a neigh­bour had re­ported they looked threat­en­ing. He was also in­formed he had bro­ken a by­law by fail­ing to get the city’s per­mis­sion to dis­play the cu­rio boxes on pub­lic prop­erty. At the time there were six boxes.

Ro­orda never imag­ined any­one would see the art pieces as a threat as it wasn’t the first time he had dis­played them. He put up boxes in an­other up­town neigh­bour­hood in June last year with­out any com­plaint and with­out per­mis­sion from the city.

In fact, he said his work got a pos­i­tive re­cep­tion on so­cial me­dia and from peo­ple who ap­proached him as he was in the process of in­stalling and re­mov­ing the pieces.

Since the Oc­to­ber or­deal, Ro­orda has been work­ing with the cities of Water­loo and Kitch­ener to get ap­provals to dis­play his art project this spring and fall. He also ap­plied for and re­ceived a $3,000 art grant from the Re­gion of Water­loo for the project and sub­se­quently spent the win­ter mak­ing 10 more of the pieces.

While Ro­orda says the cities have been “more than sup­port­ive” in as­sist­ing him with get­ting his art back on the streets, the process has been a lit­tle oner­ous.

“As a pro­fes­sional artist I can go through this process, I can make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion form that is very pro­fes­sional look­ing, and I’ve got the back­ground and re­sources to do that,” said Ro­orda.

“But if there’s peo­ple in the com­mu­nity that are not pro­fes­sional artists, that have a re­ally cool, cre­ative idea, my con­cern is that the whole process might be dis­cour­ag­ing for what might oth­er­wise be an ex­cel­lent project.”

The process in­cluded com­plet­ing pa­per­work, get­ting per­mis­sion from util­ity com­pa­nies for each in­di­vid­ual util­ity pole he wanted to hang art on, and agree­ing to put iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion on his pieces.

“His sub­mis­sion was re­viewed and ap­proved by the pub­lic art com­mit­tee,” As­tero Kalogeropou­los, Water­loo’s man­ager of arts and cul­ture, said in an email.

“Per­mis­sion and part­ner­ships were se­cured to have the pieces put up in the poles from North Water­loo Hy­dro, and City of Water­loo by­law and in­for­ma­tion about the project was sent out by the City of Water­loo through com­mu­ni­ca­tions and neigh­bour­hood groups.”

De­spite the process, Ro­orda is happy that his art will be out for the pub­lic to in­ter­act with.

“I want to bring in­ter­est­ing dis­cov­er­ies for a neigh­bour­hood,” he said.

PETER LEE WATER­LOO RE­GION RECORD

Paul Ro­orda be­side one of his “Time Stops” art­works mounted on a util­ity pole at Her­bert Street and John Street East in Water­loo.

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