A tour of the Railbender mural


(as of Friday May 6!)

1. Arpi on the Skyjack: “I love this neighbourhood,” he says. Originally from Montreal, Arpi’s work has been shown at various places including Orange Art Gallery, the West End Well, and the Hintonburg Public House. He’s also the artist behind the wall mural on Garland Street. “I hope people of all backgrounds will look at this and feel something,” says Arpi. “If my work can connect strangers? It gives me goosebumps… it opens up the door to discussion and I think that’s really important.”

Photos by Andrea Tomkins

2. Railbender owner Alex Neron’s tattooed arm: “I like painting big hands,” says Arpi. “Like the hands of God. So I thought, it could be [Alex’s] hands.” One hand is holding a tattoo gun. The other will be holding a pencil eraser.

3. The giant face: This is one of Alex’s own original drawings. Railbender fans may have seen prints of this image hanging inside the studio. Or on his calf.

4. The train: “Arpi is obsessed with trains,” says Alex. The tracks will wrap around the building. He points out that this image fits with Railbender, graffiti culture, and even Ottawa culture as well. Arpi originally wanted to paint an O-train, but encountered roadblocks when dealing with the City of Ottawa.

5. Sparrows: They weren’t filled in at the time this photo was taken (go see them now!). Natural elements often appear in Arpi’s work. In fact, he just completed a one-year horticulture program at Algonquin College. This urban bird also fits with the birdhouse element of this year’s Hintonburg Happening. The Hintonbird House Project earned local artists Daniel Martelock and Craig O’Brien one of the two 2015 HH Art Grants. Ten birdhouses have been installed around Hintonburg, each a tiny replica of the landmark building they have been mounted upon.

6. The windows: “It was a challenging surface to work on because of all the windows,” says Arpi. Windows can break the flow of a large mural. “You have to play between them.”

7. Picket fence: This is a nod to Railbender neighbour, Beyond the Pale Brewing Company, which incorporates a picket fence in its branding. As a graffiti artist, Arpi also admires the image of the missing pickets and the “openness” it represents.

Railbender is located at 3 Hamilton Ave. Arpi’s solo show, ARPi Does Railbender, will be on display until June 30.

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