445 River Avenue
This Mural was for Gas Station Theatre and was rendered by unknown artists in 2006. It was painted over in 2013 for a new Mural. Original notes follow:
The following informative article appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on September 16,
2006, which was prior to the painting of the large Mural; and it gives a terrific
perspective of how this project came about.
Winnipeg Free Press, Sept. 16, 2006, reproduced with permission
New Life for Gas Station Theatre
Gets a nice paint job, and a new attitude
By Lindsey Wiebe
The Gas Station Theatre in Osborne Village was more than an eyesore than attraction
when Steve McIntyre waged his one-man cleanup this summer.
The purple paint on the walls was faded, peeling, and marred with graffiti. Garbage piled
up faster than volunteers could remove it.
More disturbingly, the plaza commonly known as "the circle" drew a stream of drug
dealers and customers. The problem was so bad, police asked Gas Station employees not
to grow flowers in the planters.
"People would stash weapons and drugs in the plants," McIntyre said. "They wanted to
take away any places for the kids to quickly hide things."
Five months after McIntyre began his effort to clean up the area- and partnered with the
teens who hang out on the grounds- the Gas Station is experiencing a transformation.
There's fresh paint on the building, a Bear on Broadway sculpture on display, colourful
graffiti art on the oversized planters and cement ledges, and fewer drug dealers on the
grounds. The outdoor patio now hosts regular concerts by local artists.
All this with no additional staff, no resources and virtually no budget.
"If we want to expand usage of the theatre and enjoyment of the theatre, we have to start
on the outside," said McIntyre, who began working for the Gas Station in late 2004.
"I just felt that if we didn't start outside the building, visually, and as well as taking back
some sort of power on the corner, why would anybody want to come?"
McIntyre began with new paint for the building and planters: black, the cheapest colour
he could find. Then he made a deal with the dozen or so teens who routinely hang out in
the circle: protect the planters from scrawled graffiti tags for one month, and he'd let
them paint over the black with their own designs.
The plan- and McIntyre's regular presence- worked. One graffiti-free month later, the
artists began adding their own touches to the cement surfaces on the corner.
We're not paying the painters to do it, even though they deserve full salary," McIntyre
said. "They've done a fabulous job."
So far, the only expense has been the cost of paint- $600 so far.
The artists aren't the only ones working free of charge. The cash-strapped theatre had to
lay off McIntyre in recent months, but the actor has continued working without pay,
expecting activity will pick up in the fall.
McIntyre said the corner regulars have become more respectful of the space, even
intervening on McIntyre's behalf when newcomers cause problems.
McIntyre knows the problem of drug dealing hasn't disappeared. But he says there are
fewer drug dealers on the corner, and those who come aren't selling in plain view.