Mural in Virgil will pay tribute to NOTL’s agricultural roots

Virgil is about to get a huge splash of colour.

In collaboration with the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, a new mural representing Niagara-on-the-Lake’s connection to agriculture will be displayed on Niagara Stone Road on the Niagara Orchard and Vineyard Corp. building.

The project is expected to cost $23,000 and the money has now been raised so the project will move forward, the Pumphouse said in a news release.

The original oil painting, “Days End” by NOTL artist Ron Clavier, represents the farming community — or as he calls them, the “heroes” of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It depicts a farmer looking out into a field.

“I felt that this was towards the end of his workday and he was just looking over the accomplishments of the day, exhausted and proud,” said Clavier.

The piece is part of a larger collection called “Thanks for the Meal.”

“I think a lot of people don’t realize, not just the labour that goes into the production of food, but there’s a lot of love that goes on,” said Clavier.

He said he’s always admired the farming community and is “very grateful to people who devote their lives to feeding us.”

The idea for a mural began a year ago with Lise Andreana, chair of the Pumphouse board and the founder of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Arts Collective.

The project is one of the many efforts the Pumphouse is making to display more artists from NOTL. Another project around town is the beautification of hydro boxes.

Clavier is one of 25 artists who comprise the NOTL Arts Collective and while many of them included agriculture in their work, “Days End” stood out to Andreana.

“This is the only one that really speaks to the agricultural roots and actually has a farmer in the painting,” she said.

She hopes to have the mural completed before the end of the year, but said they need to wait for the construction of Highway 55 in front of the building to wrap up.

The building is corrugated like a cardboard box, she said, and when you peel it back it has a rippled surface.

The painting will be reproduced on vinyl and the section of the image with the farmer and the field will then stick to aluminium foam core board.

“You don’t have to do the whole wall in the foam core. You can’t do the image on a rippled surface, but the sky can go on a rippled surface,” she said.

It will be applied by contractors.

The piece is meant to add to the beautification work already taking place in Virgil.

Along with the new road construction, Andreana said there’s going to be more road upkeep and gardens to make Virgil more attractive — and the mural will add to that.

“We have several facilities in the downtown core which could be perked up a little bit, and this is one of them,” she said.

Arnie Lepp, owner of the Niagara Orchard and Vineyard Corp. building, said he’s excited to see the mural go up.

“The traffic may slow down a little bit in Virgil because of it,” he said.

He said Clavier’s mural is a great piece of historic art.

Lepp, along with Coun. Erwin Wiens, have been big supporters of the project and helped with the fundraising throughout the past year.

Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report