Old Saint John Market windows turned into art for charity

After restoration work on the Saint John City Market tower, the building was left with a surplus of more than 60 old windows — and now, they are being turned into art.

More than 60 old windows become canvases for artists, with sale proceeds going to PRO Kids

About 60 old windows left over after the renovation of the City Market tower are being repurposed to raise money for a local charity. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

After restoration work was completed on the Saint John City Market tower, the building was left with a surplus of more than 60 old windows — and they are now being turned into art.

Market vendor and artist Vicky Walker was concerned the old windows would simply end up in the landfill. When no one else wanted them, she made a deal with the market contractors to take possession.

Walker planned to turn one of them into a stained glass window.

Until she saw how big it was.

Artist and market vendor Vicky Walker came up with the idea to paint the windows for charity along with Stephen Chase. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

"They're 40" by 48"," she said. "And I can't lift them."

But Walker still saw the potential for using them as art. She teamed up with Stephen Chase, and the pair decided to let local artists use the windows as their canvas and auction off the paintings for charity.

When they're complete, the windows will be auctioned off for PRO Kids, which supports recreation programming for local youth.

Walker was worried the 60 old windows taken out would end up in a landfill, so she secured ownership of them from the contractors. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

That vision, not to mention the interesting choice of material, was enough to lure about two dozen artists to the project.

So far, Walker is impressed by the creations she's seen.

"I'm blown away," she said. "There's a few out there that I know I'm going to want."

But the windows themselves proved a little difficult at first for artist Helen Shideler. Inside her Quispamsis studio, she admitted she thought she would have to start the project over.

Luckily, the end result of her panes, featuring two girls frolicking in the water, has been enough to encourage her to tackle another window.

Now Shideler is excited to see what the other artists have come up with.

Helen Shideler is among two dozen artists who have volunteered their talents to take part in the project. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"We all start out with the same frame, literally," she said. "When you get them all together, you see all the artists' personalities and styles coming out in their work and they're going to be so different."

That the proceeds from the sales will go to a local children's charity only sweetens the experience, she said.

All of the window art will go on display at the Saint John Arts Centre on Aug. 30 and will be auctioned online soon after.

About the Author

Matthew Bingley

Reporter

Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.