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Occupational Salve

David Trautimas

My professional artistic practice is influenced by the minutiae of the public and private spaces through which life is lived. As a Barton Street community resident, I have benefitted from close observation of the ongoing evolution of spaces that define the Barton Street area around my home on Bristol Street where I live and work. The stretch of Barton Street between James Street North and Ottawa that I often explore on my frequent walks harbours many vacant storefronts. On closer inspection, however, these spaces do offer evidence of activity both past and present. 


I have noticed that household plants regularly occupy the window spaces of these closed businesses. Whether to make best use of the available sunlight, or perhaps to enliven otherwise void spaces for now intermittent tenants, these natural elements exist in stark contrast to the derelict store fronts they inhabit. My artwork takes this observation as inspiration: a single large-scale, black-and-white, laser-etched drawing of an Aloe Vera plant, titled Occupational Salve.


Mirroring the history and future of the Barton Street community, the natural cycle of an Aloe Vera plant is dependent upon periods of rest and successive active growth. Aloe Vera’s required period of dormancy allows the plant time to regenerate the energy needed to flower and grow in the spring, much like how the period of recession along Barton Street has engendered a sense of vigour within the neighbourhood for renewed development and vitality. The plant that I have chosen to depict also evidences past hardships - leaves broken and dented by influence from external forces. But from these, healthier and stronger leaves grow. 


The encompassing background grid as seen in my proposed artwork visually places the Aloe Vera image within an infinitely unknowable graphic continuum. I know that the revitalization of Barton Street will be a harbinger for the return of a more vibrant future for the local area and broader Hamilton region beyond. As the natural healing properties of Aloe Vera provide a salve for wounds, so too can art and its public enjoyment remind viewers that collectively, regeneration of Barton Street’s vibrancy in the near future is possible.  

David Trautrimas explores contemporary cultural phenomena in a multi-media practice that has encompassed sculpture, installation, photography, and printmaking. Oscillating between abstracted and representational renderings, his works have examined those popular icons, ordinary objects and architectural spaces that influence and inform everyday life.

Trautrimas’ work has been the subject of numerous public exhibitions in Canada and internationally in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Recent solo exhibitions include A Recollection of Spoils, Paul Elia Gallery, Hamilton; A Place Between The Water In The Water, Angell Gallery, Toronto; The Lake Dives Where the Earth Curves, Assembly Gallery, Hamilton; In The Wake of The Bind, Zalucky Contemporary, Toronto; and Eidolon Point, The Canadian Embassy’s Prince Takamodo Gallery, Tokyo. Notable group exhibitions include his presentations in Ontario at the Art Gallery of Hamilton; The Gardiner Museum; Art Gallery of Windsor; The Harbourfront Centre; The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and abroad at The Korean Arts Center, Seoul, South Korea (2011) and Queensland Center for Photography in Brisbane, Australia. David Trautrimas was born and raised in Belleville, Ontario. He currently lives and works in Hamilton. 

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650 Barton St. E

The ‘Anything is Possible on Barton’ exhibition is a neighbourhood wide art project that was selected for the Government of Canada’s My Main Street Community Activator program. This project is organized by the Barton Village BIA and funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the City of Hamilton. Thank you to the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Canadian Urban Institute for supporting local communities and revitalizing our main streets.


Please check out the other 14 installations HERE.

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