1400 Notre Dame Avenue
"A Film by Guy Maddin"
"With Art Direction by Charlie Johnston"
Another Mural in the 'Famous People, Local Heros' theme for the West End BIZ. Guy Maddin himself approved this design, and had stipulated earlier that the tribute Mural to him not show his face.
Location: S Side between Midland & Valour; East Face
Occupant: Thriftlodge/Canadiana Motor Inn
District: West End
Neighbourhood: St. James Industrial
Artist(s): Charlie Johnston (C5 Artworks)
Sponsors: Building Communities Initiative, West End BIZ, Building Communities Initiative
Guy Maddin: "This location for this Mural is quite important to me. It's just down the
street from where my Mother lives. This is not only the West End, but it's also very
close to where I have some of my fondest movie-making memories at the Dominion
Bridge Building on Dublin, just a few blocks away. I had so much fun shooting 'The
Saddest Music in the World' and 'The Heart of the World' there. I know it's slated for
demolition, but I think of that place as mine- no one else seems to want it. It's like home.
And it's here in the West End which is such a great neighbourhood and a great place to
grow up. Garbage Hill is just a stone's throw away- I love that place. This is the
territory and the outer frontier of the area I was allowed to roam when I was young."
"The one that really warms my heart the most is the depiction of Lil's Beauty Salon,
which was a family business that my Mom and her sister founded and where I grew up. I
was born in the place and spent every second of my earliest years in there. I spent so
many hours and years roaming around the west End and inside that Beauty Salon.
And seeing all the things I managed to cook up with my many collaborators over the
years actually rendered by Charlie on the wall- I never thought that something like this
would actually happen. I like the way Charlie did it. I'm not immediately recognizable.
The only way people would be able to figure out what this Mural is about is if they've
seen any of my movies, not that many people have. I like that. It's nice and puzzling to a
lot of people. And then the answer to the puzzle is me, unlike the rest of the time when
I'm usually the puzzle, even to myself. I'm grateful to the West End BIZ, and to Charlie
for putting so much work into it. Looking at the Mural, Charlie has been very
mischievous, and hiding little things in there. Charlie figured out a way of making
everything real life and my life into a beautiful gorgeous thing."
In the planning stages of the Mural, Johnston was given the stipulation at the outset that Maddin's face not appear
in the Mural. Johnston immersed himself into research on Maddin's life and films- so much so that Charlie
felt that he needed to draw a separate portrait of Guy Maddin (Photo 6) just 'to get it out of his system'. Maddin, who is
notoriously publicity shy, was extremely pleased with Charlie's finished portrait, and then suggested to Charlie
that he would like to actually use his portrait as his publicity photo- a huge vote of confidence to Johnston.
Charlie Johnston: "The stipulation that the mural didn't have his portrait in it was an
interesting creative challenge- I kind of liked it! I tried a couple of versions, including a
classic filmmaker framing his thoughts and then a film noir version- the dark side of Guy,
with a blurry scratchy texture and a pullback effect with a boom mike in the shot, the
light stand in the way, gaffers milling about in the background- the goings on of a film
shoot. And some guy standing in front of the shots absorbed in the performance, the
'down in front' guy."
"The final version of the design I had reversed the image from the depressing, dark one.
The film noir version got replaced by an icy fog of the subconscious that I imagined Guy
peering into, with his handheld camera for inspiration pulling the imagery of his stills out
of that icy fog."
"I wanted to include some of the ideas of a movie set, and incorporating the look and feel
of a set. In the original sketch I had more of those types of elements: big hot lights in
front of the scene, guys holding up backdrop panels, a second cameraman. In the end I
edited most of this out of it (with the exception of the two blue TV monitors) as I wanted
it to be more cerebral and atmospheric. That's the main theme: looking through the fog
and the ice into Guy's psyche. The images that come out of the mural are those that
emerge from the subconscious, just like the way they do in his films."
"When I do something in honour of another artist I look at the way that artist works-
that's my guide. With Guy, it's expressionistic with splashes of colour against the
beautiful black and white. I took this cue particularly from 'Dracula: Pages From a
Virgin's Diary'. There are many 'Maddinisms' here. I'd like to think of this Mural as a
Rorschach test where you draw your own meanings, as well as being an appreciation of
Guy's work and a homage to his craft."
"It was very difficult to decide which images from all of Guy's films to use. I've seen
'The Saddest Music' about 30 times, and it's like each scene is a painting, and it was very
hard to pick. The design is like the Mural version of the film version of the novel- it's
very pared down. It's more of a trailer than an actual film, but you can say a lot in 30
Imagery from Saddest Music in the World: Lady Port-Huntley portrait (Isabella
Rosellini), Gavrillo the Great (Roderick's alter-ego), the amnesiac Narcissa on the swing;
the smokestacks and hydro pole representing Winnipeg; the glass leg full of beer, and the
son's heart in the jar; the slide into the vat of beer, and the figure leaning back and
laughing (Mark McKinney). From The Heart of the World we have the heroine
scientist, Anna, the 'heart' and the cogs representing capitalism. The ostrich is one of
many from Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. The rabbits and the soldiers are from
Archangel. The purple eye was inspired from a short film Maddin did on
Odilon Redon. The man with the dark glasses At upper left is Gunnar from
Tales from the Gimli Hospital, as is the man (Gottli) squeezing the guts from the
fish, and as are the scissors. The exterior and interior shots of Lil's Beauty Salon are
inspired from its use as a setting in Cowards Bend the Knee, as well as the
hockey rink and skaters.