Local artist explores Ottawa’s underbelly

Originally published by Centretown News. 

A new art exhibition in Little Italy features local landscapes that any Ottawa resident would recognize — but with an industrial twist.

The exhibition is mainly oil paintings of distinct Ottawa landmarks, including Centretown’s skyline, complete with construction cranes and scaffolding.

Eryn O’Neill, 32, is the artist and an Ottawa native. Her art career began at the Ottawa School of Art, and after a few years of study in Halifax, she returned to Ottawa to further develop her craft.

Her art has an urban vibe, with metal cranes and the undersides of bridges featuring heavily.

“I’ve been exploring Ottawa in an industrial way,” O’Neill said, “Looking at it in a less typical way.”

Many of her pieces feature construction scenes, which is reflective of what anyone has seen driving downtown in the past few years. O’Neill, however, sees construction as much more than just a traffic jam.

“Those pieces, of construction scenes, show that cities are always evolving.”

Lauryn Santini, the director of the gallery, appreciates O’Neill’s unique perspective.

“With her work, she captures things that aren’t always the most scenic,” Santini said, “But the way she paints it really sort of captures it in a different light and makes it scenic.”

Santini has been a long-time supporter of O’Neill, and continues to help her keep in touch while she’s in Waterloo for grad school.

“She’s keeping me connected and relevant to people,” O’Neill said, “It’s amazing to still feel like an Ottawa artist even though I’m far away.”

Of the collection at Santini Gallery, O’Neill said the piece Urban/Nature, a view from the roof of the Canadian War Museum, is her favourite.

The museum is also a fan of O’Neill’s work.

“It’s great to see that local artists are inspired by the urban environment around them,” Yasmine Mingay, the Director of Public Affairs for the museum said.

Both Santini and O’Neill see art as an effective way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

“It gives you a different view of the scenes that you see all the time,” Santini said, “It allows you to stop and appreciate the views that you have.”

Above all, O’Neill appreciates the way that people are celebrating Canada; regardless of the way they’re doing it.

“The 150th anniversary is bringing so many people together from different backgrounds who are just celebrating the country,” O’Neill says, “Painting’s always been my medium, so it’s the way I express myself and my connection with my city.”

The Santini Gallery is at 169 Preston St., at Somerset St. O’Neill’s collection opened on Mar. 9, and will remain on display for the remainder of the month.

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