A person paints a geometric mural on a red brick wall

The Heart of Public Art: Murals for Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2022

The meaning of the Valentine’s season – affection, togetherness and showing appreciation – is best expressed in thoughtful ways. So, cast off the pressures this weekend and instead discover a mural or public art piece that gets to the heart of the matter: love.

A person paints a geometric mural on a red brick wall
Arts Milton + PFLAG – Halton Mural Project by JR Marr 2020. Photo courtesy of Arts Milton/ PFLAG Mural

Arts Milton and Pflag Halton mural

by JR Marr | 16 Hugh Lane, Milton

This geometric mural inspired by Pflag’s mission of inclusivity drew inspiration from sunsets, pastels, and yes, even Super Mario Brothers! As you take it in, note you stand where onlookers were as it was painted in front of a live audience during the Ontario Culture Days festival in 2020.

The piece is a symbol of the acceptance of the LGBTQ2S+ community in the Halton region, and we think there’s lots to love about that.

Canoe with a colourful painted inside
Photo of Jiimaan’ndewengadnong courtesy of Peterborough DBIA

“Jiimaan’ndewemgadnong” Pocket Park and Canoe Art Installation

By Tia Cavanagh | Pocket Park, Peterborough

Jiimaan’ndewemgadnong, which translates to “the place where the heart of the canoe beats,” brings vibrancy to the corner of King and Water Street. When you visit, don’t miss the brightly painted heart in the belly of the canoe.

This piece commemorates the Indigenous history of the region, which it was called Peterborough, was known as Nogojiwanong – Ojibwa for “place at the end of the rapids.” Visitors are encouraged to interact with the piece and the region’s history by calling a phone line, (705)-775-7286, where you’ll hear stories narrated by Anishinaabe women sharing their personal connection to canoes.

To make a full day out of being in beautiful Peterborough, check out our latest ON Culture Guide.

Colourful mural on a wall outside
Celebrating Queer Black Lives. Photo credit Selina McCallum.

“Celebrating Queer Black Lives”

By Curtia Wright | Oakwood Village, Toronto

This mural depicts two queer Black femmes in vibrant, fantastical colours. In all her work, Wright uses elements of fantasy and surrealism to reimagine our current reality, including stories of Black peoples of the African diaspora, including her own experience as a Jamaican-Canadian.

The mural was supported by a STEPS program, I HeART Main Street, which connects Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) with the funding and artists to install public art. Applications are currently open, and any interested BIAs can apply.

Basketball court with a mural of hands in the shape of a heart
Image credit Jamii Esplanade

Esplanade mural and basketball court

By local youths, under the guidance of artists Julian Periquiet and Elisa Monreal | St. Lawrence, Toronto

In 2013, a violent police chase destroyed a cherished Esplanade basketball court. In response, Jamii, an arts non-profit, stepped up and initiated a project to rebuild a beautiful, safe community space. The project brought together 16 local youths, who designed and painted the mural and brought the community together once more.

Mural of flowers on a wall
Mural and photo by Ryan Smeeton

Mural for Nectar Flowers

By Ryan Smeeton | Ottawa

Smeeton beautifies downtowns and BIAs with his nearly 30 public murals, which often feature lush greenery and florals. We think this one, commissioned by a local business, captures a Valentine’s classic in a fresh and strikingly beautiful way. You can find other murals by Smeeton across the province.