Portage & Empress underpass
This underpass was painted with sponsorship of Take Pride Winnipeg and General Paint in 1997. Shown here is the North side- the south side may be viewed in photo 2. The artist was Paul Ullrich. Painters included Jeff, Chris, Amanda B. Jen E., Ryan. TECH Voc Painters: Neven Hartle, !Sumner!, Clayton, Eddie R., Janet S. Plane Art: Marcy Taird, Robyn Lynds.
The Mural had deteriorated and was painted over in 2008. A new Mural is planned for in the summer of 2009.
Original notes follow:
Paul Ullrich refers to this wall as his "killer" Mural: "That one really did me in. That
was a killer project. I actually swore off Murals for life after that one! I also don't do
ladders anymore. In 1997, I was hanging over Portage Avenue on a rickety ladder
painting a Pepsi logo on a windy day, and I decided I didn't want to die this way!"
"The fellow at the Winnipeg Air Show that I was dealing with, to say the least, was a
stickler for detail, and he just drove me crazy. As just one example, the colour of the
paint for the snowbirds was slightly off. I had wanted to use up some old paint that I had
but apparently it wasn't the exact shade of red. He didn't like it and I had to repaint all the
planes. This would happen on a daily basis where there was something he wouldn't like
and I would have to go and do it over."
"As far as the city, I was working with the department that oversaw bridges, and a
conflict arose between this department and the Snowbirds people who are very protective
of their trademark and logo, and very particular as to how their Snowbirds were
represented. The original idea was to have generic, facsimile Snowbirds. I mentioned
this in passing to the guy in charge of the bridge, and he blew a gasket! For some reason,
they took it very personally that we weren't using the real Snowbirds; and he insisted- the
project wasn't going to go through unless I painted the real Snowbirds. I had no choice
but to contact the Air Show people with the bad news."
"That was a six-week Mural. It took almost a month for the Air Show to negotiate with
the Snowbirds to get permission for me to paint their airplanes on the Mural. So we got it
done if for no other reason than the person in charge of the bridges wanted the Snowbirds
and had the tenacity to stick to his guns on his insistence that the Snowbirds be part of the
wall. This month long delay really through a monkey wrench into my schedule however,
and I had to work around it by working on the other sections of the wall and I saved this
section until last."
"I did all the prep work on the wall myself. It was originally going to be painted in May
and June. That was the year of the great flood of 1997. It had been a very cold winter,
the ground was still hard and the wall was sweating from frozen moisture. Later when
the students started, two of the Tech Voc students, Eddie and Clayton, both aboriginal
artists, were especially keen: they'd arrive sometimes even before I did and were the last
to leave; they were just fantastic. Some of the other kids weren't that keen and
sometimes didn't show up at all-they'd be across the street at the mall and those kids got
pulled from the project. Because it was right next to Polo Park, my problem was that my
crew would disappear for 2 1/2 hour lunches at the air-conditioned mall."
"It was probably my most ambitious wall but it was also the one that almost did me in:
trouble with the bridge department, trouble with the Air Show people, trouble with the
Snowbirds. It was a real b*** buster- I didn't even want to look at another well after
that. I also did not want to work on ladders anymore. It was all ladder work and on an
incline! In the middle of this, Take Pride Winnipeg was still involved, but there actually
was no staff whatsoever for about a month (September) until Tom Ethans was hired. The
two staff members had both left for other employment by the beginning of the summer;
and that left only the summer students who were finished at the end of August. So I had
no support staff at all to help deal with any problems or needs, there was just me. It was
finally finished at the end of September."
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