Eleven local artists took to the street this weekend to help brighten up an Ottawa coffee shop. What used to be a normal alley has been transformed into an eye-catching work of art.

It all happened outside the Arlington Five coffee shop.

Owner of Arlington Five, Jessie Duffy, says she was happy to offer up her space. 

“We’ve always thought of ourselves as a creative space, and what better way to see it animated than to get some of the city’s best mural artists in,” she says.

Graffiti and street artists have been given the opportunity to take a plain alley, which doubles as the coffee shop’s outdoor patio, and create beautiful artwork for the public to enjoy while they sip their iced coffee.

“It’s just incredible,” says Duffy. “When artists come together, the spirit, the energy that's created, it's something magical.”

“We put energy into the wall,” says muralist Danae Brissonnet. “Whatever it can be. A message; it can be colours. Just the fact of doing it and putting energy into the street, I think it really heals people.”

And this is a chance for some of these artists to do something they’ve never done before. 

Street artist TRP613 helped organize the event in partnership with House of Paint, a local festival displaying the best in Canadian urban arts and culture.

“Many of these artists have never actually had a wall that got to stay, that was legal, that they were allowed to paint, or they were allowed to put up posters and stuff. So, it's kind of a safe spot for people to come and do art,” says TRP613.

“With COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic, we’ve been unable to have a festival this year,” says Veronica Roy, GM of House of Paint, “but we do still have a lot of artists in the community who need to work and who have creative energy.”

Some of this artwork isn't only spectacular, it has meaning. 

Graffiti artist Mique Michelle wanted to support black lives matter with her art.

“On this wall in particular, we’re paying a bit of a tribute in solidarity to the pink flamingo project happening in Calgary. It’s a group of people with Black Lives Matter who wanted to showcase, make visibility, so artists can recognize themselves on the wall. And they were met with death threats,” Michelle says.

The art here will live on for years to come and Arlington Five hopes it can make others as happy as the artists who created it.

“I hope it becomes a cool sort of hybrid between what private space can look like when it's offered up to the public,” says Duffy.

“I hope more of this stuff happens, and people enjoy it,” says TRP613. “I think Ottawa needs more art, more colour, and more vibrancy. And the artists here, that's what we’re here to do.”

House of Paint says it is in talks with other local businesses and they are hoping to do something like this again in the near future.