176 Fort Street
An Egyptian Desert Rave!
Location: W side bet. York & St Mary; South Face
Occupant: Pyramid Cabaret
District: City Centre
Neighbourhood: South Portage
Artist(s): Michele Farber-Olafson & Lloyd Olafson
Sponsors: Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, ICI Paints, Battlefield Equipment Rentals, Take Pride Winnipeg!
Michele Farber-Olafson: "This one started with a phone call from Take Pride Winnipeg
about a small patio so we went down to the site and saw that it was this large wall.
Initially there was talk of doing the entire wall, but because it was so late in the year it
was decided to do the patio section of the wall. We met with the owner, Dave McKeigan,
and he gave us some ideas of what he'd like to see. We drew up some work and did a
rough sketch for him."
Lloyd Olafson: "Dave liked a lot of the Murals that are going up in the city but he wanted
something different: not just scenery or heritage. He had been wanting a Mural for
almost 10 years and had been planning it. He had a number of sketches that he had been
saving over that period of time. Several of the drawings alone didn't quite hit on the
theme that he wanted. It was a collage of these ideas that he wanted. I said 'why don't we
have a type of Egyptian rave out in the desert'. And so it was!"
Michele: "Elements of the design got changed several times while we were working
there. The owner was enthusiastic but would sometimes change his mind on what he
wanted. On the right, we originally planned to have a village and/or an oasis; and there
was to have been a caravan in the background. We also had clouds going across the sky
in the shape of faces of famous Winnipeggers. The owner nixed the clouds idea since
clouds usually aren't seen in the desert."
Lloyd: "Overall I think the owner was quite happy with the job we did-we received a
very nice e-mail from him after we finished. Our main regret here is that it started so late in the season that
there were serious time constraints to get it finished. I made Stompin' Tom Connors (see Photo 2)
dressed in black in consideration of the fact that many of the Pyramid Cabaret's patrons
wear black to the bar. I didn't want this of the other figures, however, because we wanted
a bright vibrant outdoor rave scene. Elvis is in black, though, along with his blue suede
Michele: "That's Sergeant Tommy Prince beside him (Stompin' Tom). This is a younger
version of Tommy Prince (in his 20s) from what is normally shown, from World War II
era. And then we have the famous Team Canada '72 moment with Henderson and
Cournoyer. Next to them in the green shirt and cap is the owner's friend who passed
away last year. His name was Glen Campbell. The guy in the number 18 jersey is
another friend who frequented the bar, South Side Johnny. Dave owns The Blue Moose
building down the street so that's why he wanted a Blue Moose jumping over the moon!
And he wanted these mountains in the desert."
Lloyd: "He wanted Winnipeg teams represented so we included a Winnipeg Jets player
and a Winnipeg Goldeye. There's no significance to the number 30 other than that's the
date in October we were to be finished by! The weather didn't cooperate much
and we were working 10-12 hour days on the better days just trying to get it closer to
completion. We used ICI Weatherguard, a low temperature paint. The paint didn't run at
all even in the rain, and it holds its colour really well; an excellent quality paint."
Michele: "And yet when it was warm, it was like a furnace working on that wall with the
reflective surface. We primed the wall ourselves so there would be no flashing (where the
paint gets applied unevenly) to ensure a good even coat. The sand area is a three-colour
blend by hand: this was time-consuming, but we think it gives it a bit more depth."
Lloyd: "The banner across the top of the wall was a collaborative idea between David and us. He
wanted a break at the top but didn't know precisely what; so we suggested the idea of
mixing hieroglyphics with Canadiana symbols! If you were to read out the Egyptian
symbols you will see that they actually do spell 'Pyramid Cabaret'!(Ed. note- it's true! I checked!
The hieroglyphics came straight from
http://www.eyelid.co.uk/e-name2.htm check it out; it's fun!)
David curls, so we wanted to
make sure that we included a curling stone as one of the Canadiana symbols; along with a
hockey stick, moose, buffalo, flag, and so on.
Michele: "We really had a blast painting it. We got lots of favourable comments by passers-by.
People would come down
from their offices and talk to us that were watching the progression of the Mural. A cab
driver stopped and told us how much he liked it and how much better the city is looking
now with the Murals." (see the 'before' view, which is Photo 4)
Contact Michele and Lloyd at: