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Local muralist promoting positivity during COVID-19 through art in ByWard Market

Robbie Lariviere is using his felt markers and spray paint to communicate support and solidarity throughout the community as retail outlets adapt to new ways of business.
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Robbie Lariviere poses in front of one of his latest projects, a mural adorning the wall in Not Your Fathers Barber on Murray Street. Photo courtesy Robbie Lariviere

As COVID-19 forces businesses to board up their windows and doors, muralist and illustrator Robbie Lariviere is using the Byward Market as his canvas to promote positivity and incorporate some visual allure during these otherwise uncertain times.

The Cornwall native is part of a group of local artists who have been spreading positive messages and good vibes through artwork strategically positioned on businesses that have been forced into temporary closure throughout the normally busy hub. 

Beautifying local retail outlets through street art isn’t anything new for the 36-year-old former gallery owner.

After closing Fall Down Gallery in 2015, which served as a hub for locals to gather and sell their art, he was able to focus full time on his own craft, creations in the style of what he describes as new age pop.

Whether it’s hand painted designs on windows, chalk murals or a commissioned canvas, Lariviere is hoping to communicate a powerful message of connection through his art.  

Although Lariviere’s volume of work remains relatively unaffected by the pandemic -- something he credits completely to the Ottawa community and their steadfast support for the local arts scene -- he explains that it did shift the type of work that he was being commissioned to do, with murals taking a back seat while requests for canvases and window designs skyrocketed. 

Approaching him in the hopes of making their spaces more inviting, businesses like The Grand Pizzeria, Zak’s Cantina and Blue Cactus believe that Lariviere’s artistic touch is a unique way to promote their ongoing delivery and takeout services while boarded up businesses, like The Aulde Dubliner, could simply use a bit of uplifting colour on an otherwise bland background. 

“It’s really just a hard time for everyone. So having the [art] is adding to their marketing and advertising and potentially giving them more business,” explains Lariviere. 

Thrilled with the growing number of posts from social media users unable to pass up the perfect shot of creative street art finds, Lariviere says he’s grateful for the stream of positive feedback and happily exclaims that The Aulde Dubliner has become its very own selfie wall. 

Bringing his vision to life through spray paint and felt markers, Lariviere says his art has always been family-friendly and positive and thinks that it’s a really good match for what’s needed right now. Having recently collaborated on a large chalk mural to honour the teams and residents at Verve Senior Living in Carp and Belleville, Lariviere is hopeful that projects like this can bring a little bit of joy, even if only visible through the glass of a window pane. 

Follow along with Lariviere’s latest projects on his Instagram account @falldowng

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