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This tribute Mural to the Guess Who is suitably located in the North End, within a block or two from the street where Burton Cummings grew up. The Mural was completed on July 21, 2007.


Location: E side bet Bannerman & Atlantic; South Face

Occupant: Classic Shears Barber Shop

District: North End

Neighbourhood: St. John's-

Artist(s): Michael Bridgford-Read, Marymound Students, St. John's High School Students

Year: 2007

Sponsors: Pollock Hardware, Gord Mackintosh (MLA St. John's)

 

Michael Bridgford-Read: "I myself have always loved the Guess Who. My patrol stop in elementary school was right by the Bachman house in Garden City. In 1976 I used to see Rob and Randy, and I was only 10 years old and I was listening to their music."

"It was Gord Mackintosh's (MLA, St. John's) idea to have a Guess Who Mural. I see him at St. John's High School where I work- he makes regular visits to the school. So I got to know him and have a good rapport with him. We both attended the same boarding school- he was one of the first to attend, I was one of the last. Gord also has connection to my friend Mardy Yager at Marymound School. Gord approached Mardy that he wanted to do this Mural to honour the Guess Who. My vice principal Greg, who was there too, said, let's get Michael and St. John's High School involved. So that was it!"

"Gord found the wall. Gord Mackintosh's constituency office was upstairs in that building, but had moved to another location. He had talked to the owner and gotten consent. There was an existing 7-Up sign from the sixties there, all faded."

"I was given the task of coming up with the design and imagery. I was thinking of those colours of the era, all those funky clothes and colours: it's gotta be psychedelic to capture the 60's. I want that colour! I wanted to come up with a couple of designs because Gord and (noted rock historian) John Einerson had been in touch and wanted some specific things for the Mural."

"There was a lot of talk about the songs and the album covers. I thought one of the best ways to go would be to grab the album covers and collage them all together. The second idea I thought 'well if the other one was going to be images, maybe the second one would be quite different so that when I'm showing the proposals I can contrast them'. That's where I came up with the song titles and the funky splashes of colour (photo 2). In my head, I was thinking much more about the album cover approach, using imagery from the album covers."

"I went and met my friend Pat Lazo at the Graffiti Gallery and told him I was going to do my first Mural, and he just said 'keep it simple'. That helped in the design, so that instead of loading it with 15 different album covers, I chose 6: Canned Wheat, Wheatfield Soul, Goodbye Bannatyne Hello My Chevrier Home, Live at the Paramount, American Woman, the Beaver Head logo. In researching, I found the Beaver holding a gramophone (see photo 4) but John Einerson felt it was too obscure. Things get changed, and it was replaced by the more familiar Beaver Head with the Maple Leaf. I saw back stage passes and brochures for shows where the Beaver Head on the maple leaf was on there. They actually had a rubber stamp of the Beaver Head on the Maple Leaf that they stamped on things. It was fun working with John. John has a lot of connections in the music business."

"The blue woman is from American Woman- she's behind the guys' overlaid faces. We didn't have clearance to use any likenesses of the Guess Who members themselves, so I pulled out the blue blonde-haired woman and used her instead. I enjoyed that- pulling her face out: it was challenging and it was fun. There was some concern expressed that people wouldn't recognize this enough as being American Woman; and we didn't want to have an American flag to help do this because the Guess Who are proudly Canadian. But from that discussion we did come up with the idea of having a border around the Mural, and then putting the words 'American Woman' in the border above the blue faced woman; which would also open up the possibility of using other song titles, album cover names, etcetera. But the reality is there is a 220 volt high amperage power line running along the top of the building, so we didn't do that. But having the border there is nice, though!"

"The other album cover I've not mentioned yet is It's Time (at right in the Mural), which was their first as The Guess Who. Someone told me that tree was one of the old monkey trees in Kildonan Park that they are standing in, but I'm not sure if it's true. They're in the tree in their exact poses as on the album cover. They're in silhouette though, unlike the album cover, because we did not have clearance to show any of their faces. I like the silhouettes- I think they worked really well."

"I really like the Guess Who logo. It was taken from a 1970's backstage pass- it was a denim blue just like that. At a planning meeting we came up with the final design, editing out the Beaver with the gramophone and replacing ' Share the Land' with the Canadian Flag Beaver Head, and adding 'Bannatyne'. I like the Maple Leaf in there. Canada is the only country that has a floral, nature image as its main motif rather than colour bands or coats of arms- the only country that shows nature!"

"The horizontal banding of colour is from Wheatfield Soul. The Live at The Paramount buildings are springing out at you from the horizon."

"The start of painting was delayed. June was very rainy. I wanted to start earlier, but coordinating things and getting people together is hard. My students had to wait until classes were over before they could donate time to me. I was out there a few days before them prepping the wall and laying down grid lines and getting things ready for them. The girls were able to start the last 2 weeks of the school year, and then for 3 weeks after that. We painted 3 or 4 days per week for the last 3 weeks- we pulled some long shifts at the wall. It's a south facing wall and it was very hot. We drank lots of water. I got a nice tan."

"We used a dozen or more colours, but we didn't blend or mix any other colours. I paint in a field painting style. I really like the way the 57 Chevy came out. I think what really makes it look good is the front bumper, and getting that chrome like appearance. The car is a real focal point."

"The girls had a great work ethic! They're good people- they know how to look at something and determine what needs to be done and how to do it. Once they've done that they then go back and think OK what needs to be changed, how can we change it and make it better. They showed great perseverance and focus in making it right until the job is done. I'm very happy with their work on the Canned Wheat cans. Although we did use a grid, in some places the girls drew things totally by hand and by sight. On the Canned Wheat section, one of the stars (the farthest on the right) says 'by Garnet' which is a reference to Garnet Gillies, inventor of the Garnet amp and other electronics that was largely responsible for their sound. He recently passed away, so we put that in there to honour him."

"For safety reasons, I did most of the work at the top. But the girls did do some, and would use the scaffolding, and move it around as they needed to. On the windier days they didn't. But working outside is a great way to connect with the students. You learn a lot about people when you are outside of the school's aura, and you get to see another side of one another off the school property outside of the student and teacher roles. I believe outdoor education is an important part of a kid's overall education."

"The license plate says '100' because it's was the 100th anniversary of Winnipeg at that time. In the late 60's was also Canada's 100th, Manitoba's 100th. The 100th anniversary of St. John's High school is only 3 years away. The 57 Chevy does not say 'Chevrolet' but rather 'Chevrier', again in tribute to the album."

"I'm so pleased with the way the Mural turned out. It was a great adventure. I had fun. It was an honour to do that Mural."