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Alumni in the News: The Windsor Star: An outsider's walkabout guide to Windsor
Author: Ted Shaw, The Windsor Star
Posted: April 18, 2013

You can read the original article in The Windsor Star here.

From an outsider's perspective, Windsor comes off just fine to a pair of American graphic artists.

Sarah Baugh, 27, and Nicole Lavelle, 25, have turned wanderlust into art in Spirit of Windsor: An Outsider's Guide, produced in conjunction with Windsor's Broken City Lab arts collective.

The guide published in the form of a newspaper will be launched tonight at 6 p.m. at Broken City Lab's gallery, Civic Space, 411 Pelissier St.

The two were schooled in graphic design for newspapers and magazines at Portland State University, and put together a similar project for a small community in Utah.

That drew the attention of Broken City, which invited Baugh and Lavelle to turn the trick here.

"Our last project was to make a single edition newspaper about a community in Utah where we worked with high school students," said Baugh.

"We had no idea how this would turn out until we actually got here in Windsor."

The two were provided living space for a week in a small room at the back of the Broken City gallery. "It was a little tight for two," Baugh said, "but it was just for a week."

The artists roamed on foot through the downtown, stopping to eat where their fancies took them and taking in some of the more interesting sights.

"If we saw a rock that was painted yellow, we'd take a picture and make a note of it," Lavelle said.

"We had no idea where we were going until we got there."

They set out, notebook and cameras in hand, to record what they saw and did.

"We came with no previous knowledge of Windsor," said Lavelle. "Our cellphones wouldn't work so we had to rely on people who live here to find out how to get places."

Their guide to the city is something of a diary account of their walkabout. "Hopefully, this will have the dual purpose of providing people in Windsor with a different view of their city and offering some guidance to those who come here for the first time," Lavelle said.

Windsor turned out to be nothing like what they expected. They had stayed with some artist friends in Detroit a year ago and had an image of the small city across the Detroit River.

"When we first arrived one of the first places we went was the river," said Lavelle. "There's a river that separates Portland and people go there to have their pictures taken. Here, it took a while to realize that was another country across there."

The river is more than just a geo-political division between the two cities.

Said Lavelle: "I was struck by how close Windsor is to Detroit but how totally distinct the two communities are. Sure, it's an international border between them, but the two feel like completely different cities."

Baugh agreed. "It's so close and the ties are so strong. But, really, when you're here, you're here, and when you're there, you're there."

The guide will be provided free of charge to the shops and restaurants the two visited.

Baugh and Lavelle made their way across the northern U.S. in an old van in early January. "It was an adventure, that's for sure," Baugh said.

The vehicle is in the repair shop being overhauled for the return trip home to Portland. "We're hoping we don't run into any snow on the way back," said Baugh.

The road trip, she added, might end up providing source material for another project.