Site Scope Residency #1:


Join the discussion -- respond to his writings and post your views
and comments on our
message board.

John Bentley Mays's writings are available here:

    Andrés Duany: Miami and Oakville

    John Bentley Mays: Morrison Creek

    John Bentley Mays: 1 - House

    John Bentley Mays: 2 - Georgian

    John Bentley Mays: 3 - Fear

    John Bentley Mays: 4 - Backpack

    John Bentley Mays: 5 - Corner

    John Bentley Mays: 6 - Random Notes

    John Bentley Mays: 7 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 1

    John Bentley Mays: 8 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 2

    John Bentley Mays: 9 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 3

    John Bentley Mays: 10 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 4

    John Bentley Mays: 11 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 5

    John Bentley Mays: 12 - Perfect House, Globe and Mail Article 6


The dynamic context of urban and environmental change has been offered as a theme and entry point to such recent Oakville Galleries exhibitions as Kim Adams: Bruegel-Boch Bus*; Roy Arden: Selected Works 1988-2000*; No Man's Land: The Photographs of Lynne Cohen, Susan Dobson: Sprawl (complemented by an artist in the community project, Home Truths*; Jeremy Borsos: Then Again* and Seven Påhlsson: Sprawlville ((March 2004.)

*see "past exhibitions" section of website.
Site Scope explores how the Internet might bridge the content of these exhibitions to the visual experience outside the walls of Oakville Galleries. The project, launched at a moment when Oakville is feeling the effects of urban sprawl, encourages a discovery of what is unique to the town. Site Scope is informed by the way that the Internet offers a view of maps as fragmentary, provisional and time-sensitive renditions of a location. Beyond the screen, the opposite tendency is in effect as communities use visual means to increasingly regulate and define physical public space. These range from the modest, such as pedestrian signs, to such comprehensive designs as town plans.

Beyond the official civic representation of a town there are myriad overlapping, sometimes interdependent and ever mutating perspectives that permit individuals or groups to operate with widely different interpretations of the same place. Site Scope sets out to reveal these as they can be glimpsed behind the Heritage Zones, the developers' "communities" and the urban planners' official designs.  It brings into question commonly held views of the town's identity to stimulate ever more vital versions of what Oakville once was, now is, and could become.

Site Scope was launched this past summer with a map, informed by local history, that encouraged the self-guided discovery of the estate garden and its connection to the surrounding built and natural environment. The map invites visitors to extend the promenade typical to the art gallery or garden out through the gates and into the neighborhood as a place where, among other things, lakeshore public access and lakefront seclusion are marked through subtly delineated boundaries and pathways.
John Bentley Mays in Oakville was the first of what we hope will be a series of Site Scope residencies. John set out to enrich local debate on urbanism and architecture and in so doing contribute to the intense reflection on the evolution of the town. He offered an impressionistic view of town life as he interpreted it through interviews with a spectrum of its residents. As well, he provided important background on such major players in the town's future as urban planner/architect Andrés Duany who, through town hall meetings, invited local residents into a collective visualization of Oakville North, a territory of rapid population influx, hyper development, ecological sensitivity and layered intergovernmental zoning. Further, each week, one Oakville house was featured in John's weekly The Globe and Mail column, "The Perfect House." This writing allowed him to inflect his broader observations on town culture into a more detailed analysis of individual families and their homes.

John Bentley Mays' investigation combines cultural anthropology, architecture criticism and social chronicle; did it reveal some important aspects of local consciousness? It's up to site visitors to say by posting a message on the electronic
discussion board.

Visit the Globe and Mail for his weekly column.

Many people contributed to John Bentley Mays' investigation of Oakville.
Special thanks to:
Harry Barrett
Doreen Blake
Teresa Casas
George Chisholm
Jane Coryell
Andres Duany
Walter Jennings
Craig MacBride
Yo Mustafa
Francine Périnet
Wendy Perkins
Kenneth Robertson
Right Reverend Ralph Spence

For more information, contact Teresa Casas at 905.844.4402, ext. 23. or by
email at



© 2004 WHALESONGS & Oakville Galleries