The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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Displaying Locations 651-655 of 732


891 St. Mary's Road    Location Map

Location: NE corner St. Mary's & Frederick; West Face

Occupant: Good News Fellowship Church

District: St. Vital

Neighbourhood: St. George

Artist(s): Darlene 'Toots' Toews

Year: 2004

Sponsors: Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Take Pride Winnipeg!, G. Visser & Sons (PEI Spuds), Dakota Motor Hotel, Victor Meger (Job Re-Entry Program), Cathie Chapman (Beauty Consultant), Webstone Design, Deanna Waters (USANA Indep. Assoc.), ICI Paints, Gord Steeves (City Councillor)


Cathie Chapman: "This project started about two years ago when our South Winnipeg Chapter of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce steering committee was discussing problems that community businesses face. The topic of graffiti was raised- and that Murals were a good way of deterring graffiti. As a member of this church, I knew we had this great big wall and that it had been tagged. I also knew about the heart of this church! We thought about a number of approaches as to how to do the Mural. A lot of people put a lot of time and energy into it. We felt that it would help give the area more beauty and thus give it more attraction to businesses and the people who live here."

Robert Visser (Pastor, Good News Fellowship Church): "We've been wanting to offer something to our community for a while now, and this was our chance. It had crossed our minds that a Mural could be done in the past, but it wasn't until we hooked up with the chamber that it began to take off. Your website was a bit of an inspiration, too. It's a great site; ands it's neat that you have all the positive images on Winnipeg's buildings in one place. It was that website that made me realize that we could do a Mural that big."

A number of approaches were considered for this large wall which stands 15 feet tall and 125 feet long. Initially there was talk of using a professional artist for all of the design and artwork and planning the scene in 35- foot phases as the money was raised. As for theme, an initial idea was for it to depict the area's history; but then the suggestion was made to make it more teen oriented (Good Fellowship Church shares the building with another very teen-oriented church, Dakota Community Church). Each successive idea became more people and community oriented involving people of all ages.

During this time, Robert's wife, Michele was working as a volunteer on the Winnipeg Harvest Mural project (see 1085 Winnipeg (2)), headed up by Darlene 'Toots' Toews. It was another of her projects that involved kids of all ages and had that real community feel to it. Michele felt that Toots was a natural for the church Mural and recruited her on the spot. And she admired Toots' skills in relating to and managing several painters and details simultaneously as well as her ability to coax talent from those unaccustomed to holding a paintbrush.

Toots met with church members and had them draw out the things they'd like to see on the wall. Toots took all of these and came up with a design, a scene, that included the four seasons and as much of their artwork that could comfortably fit. Once the wall had been prepped, she blocked out the rough shapes of the design and began to sketch in the outlines of the submissions; and several of the young artists then got to paint in their own drawings.

Robert Visser: "I think the thing I enjoyed most about this project is that when an idea begins to blossom (as this one did) It's not just about the end product as the goal, but also the process by which the community becomes formed and shaped around this project."

At the Mural unveiling (Oct 1, 2004), Toots reflected back on the project with warmth. She called it a truly community undertaking. She thanked the church, and the staff and the many volunteers and children who gave help in many ways- in drawing, in prayer, in grunt work, layout, and painting. She estimates that 125 hours went into planning the Mural and another 300 plus hours in its rendering. "The site had lots of visitors- come came by daily to see the newest addition. Bikers, skateboarders, walkers, joggers would say things like: 'cool, looks great, makes me happy, wonderful colours.' Lots of traffic honking, giving the thumbs up; people with kids in strollers and wagons checking everyday to see what was being done. This whole project was about community, friendship and neighbourhood."

It is the opinion of this writer that at the end of the day, this church got the RIGHT Mural for their wall: it is the one that reflects the spirit and life of the people. It is a wall that has dozens of details and probably as many stories. The weather was very wet and cool throughout this project; and Toots in her own flamboyant way found a colourful huge parasol at Superstore down the street ("I got the last one!" she exclaimed enthusiastically) which she hooked up to her scaffolding and worked under (see photo 4). On the wall there is a tree with what was originally planned to be apples growing on it. The red paint of the 'apples' started to drip on the wall, so Toots changed them into hearts! The middle caroler with the blue hair is based on a visitor to the wall. The wall jut-outs worked perfectly as the awning for the 'hockey shop' and the 'school' (see Photo 3). And 'Bertha's Hair Salon' is aptly named for Toots' hairdresser for over 20 years! Toots was still making little adjustments to the wall right up until two hours before the unveiling ceremony. The very last detail that was added was to change the hair of the baby Jesus from blonde to brown so he would be more visible laying on the hay in the manger.