The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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Location: SW corner Main & Dufferin; North Face

Occupant: Trident Press

District: North End

Neighbourhood: Lord Selkirk Park

Artist(s): Dennis Bell, Diane Bell (unsigned)

Year: 2001

Sponsors: Take Pride Winnipeg!, Neighbourhoods Alive! (Manitoba), City of Winnipeg, Winnipeg Foundation

Painters: Diane Bell (apprentice).

 

Dennis Bell: "Even though this was only one site, I was actually building two unique Murals with completely separate designs."

"The newspaper, The Ukrainian Voice, that's printed here still gets mailed back to the Ukraine. They wanted something historical; with a newspaper boy selling newspapers. I researched through books at various libraries looking for old shots of newspaper boys and it was really hard to find anything. Going through period photos of the 20's and 30's, I found a picture of a boy standing on a corner with his sister and he was yelling at her and thought I could build the portrait of the young newspaper hawker from him. So I used his face and the mouth; the photo seemed to be so perfect for its time. I changed the hat, but that was it."

"I wanted this man approaching him with his back to us; and I also needed to have a storefront with a figure in the background. By design, it became more of a cartoon than an image of realism. The original maquette (photo 2) was plotted out in the grid system which I was planning to use for this wall, but I ended up changing the design layout so much that I had to abandon it and then freehanded it all."

"I like early morning, and the backlighting, and that's what I captured here. I took a lot of pictures and looked at storefronts and awnings along Main Street. But I didn't want it to look too realistic, so I simplified it down as much as I possibly could."

"For the Ukrainian Dancers, I used a calendar photo from the early 70's of my wife Diane and her brother, Larry who were in the first Ukrainian Dance Company of Winnipeg. The shot is of them dancing in a field at a festival in Dauphin. It DOES look like Diane, but she's not smiling and she's not happy about that (!), although she wasn't smiling in the picture either. For the Dancers, I added a few trees in the background. I actually wanted to have them in amongst large poplar trees and then play with the lighting, but the size of the wall just wouldn't allow it; I would have needed a much bigger wall."

"The dancers were in honour of Diane's mother who has now passed away. She was down there checking on us everyday; and she had made the costumes for this dancers. She was also a strong part of the dance company and helped get it started. She also went to a shoemaker and had all the boots made by hand. The material for the costumes was brought from the Ukraine, as were the hats."

With all of this personal knowledge, references and experience with the subject matter, Dennis was indeed, the very right choice of artist for this wall. The clients WANTED the newsboy and they WANTED the Ukrainian dancers and were overjoyed with the two designs. It was a match made in heaven. And today, these side-by-side scenes of contrasting styles by the same artist on the same wall are a living testimonial of the versatility and artistry of Dennis Bell.