Youth-inspired mural coming to Circle K wall in east Picton

WHAT WILL ONE DAY BE Local artist Tomas Del Balso will be working with local youth to create a wall mural celebrating the sense of community of Prince Edward County in Picton. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)



Bright and vibrant art work is coming to a plain white wall in east Picton.

Preparations for a community art mural project on the west-facing wall of the Circle-K convenience store on the corner of Main and Paul Streets got underway Tuesday afternoon as the white stucco canvas will be transformed into a collaboratively crafted, large-scale tribute to the communal sense of Prince Edward County.

The artwork will be created by Cherry Valley based-artist Tomas Del Balso with help from youth members of the ROC and is funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation and that organization’s Grow Grant. Over the past three years, the Grow Grant has been providing youth with meaningful community  engagement, new projects and positive opportunities for youth volunteerism and leadership skill development across the province.

“ROC youth are creating a community art mural in a public outdoor space in partnership with the PEC Arts Council and Circle K Convenience Store,” explained ROC Administrator and Communications Officer Alison Kelly.

This 16-week project provides youth skills training opportunities by working collaboratively with local artist and entrepreneur Del Balso to design and install a mural on the Circle K back wall for all of their community to enjoy.

“The youth started working with Tomas early this year through weekly, in-person art workshops on a design reflective of living in Prince Edward County. When the pandemic hit, the youth artists continued to work on the project virtually and are now in the final stages of installing the finished mural with the reveal planned for the end of August,” Kelly added.

Input and concepts from local youth have been integeral to the mural project since the start.

“For me, I really enjoy drawing. I found that during COVID-19, participating in the art project from home gave me more time to work on my art. I’m really excited to help paint the final mural and know that the community will get to enjoy something I created,” said a local contributor.

Driven by a team of dedicated volunteers, ROC began in 2000 as a belief in the potential of youth and a vision to help guide them through the major and recurring difficulties in their lives. Within a year, a volunteer Board of Directors was established to guide the development of ROC, and to work at increasing funding and local support for the organization. The Board soon obtained charitable status with the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) allowing them to provide tax receipts for donations. In 2010, ROC employed an Executive Director to manage its growing operations.

After 13 years in MacCaulay Village of Prince Edward County, ROC moved its programming directly into the schools to become more accessible to the youth, and partner with all points of the County.

In January, 2017, ROC proudly opened the doors of the Prince Edward County Youth Centre, as a safe space to support youth success and contribute to a healthy and vibrant PEC.