The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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661 Sara Avenue    Location Map
  



Location: N side bet. Furby & Langside; East Face

Occupant: Apartment building

District: West End

Neighbourhood: West Broadway

Artist(s): Joël Côté, Robert Loiselle, Alison Ham, Marie Baffoe

Year: 2000

 

Jol Ct: "The West Broadway-South Sherbrook BIZ hired me as their student BIZ ambassador for the summer of 2000. My bosses gave me a few tasks to do for them, but not enough to keep me occupied all summer. I hinted to them that I wanted to paint a Mural but they didn't take me too seriously."

"One of the goals I had set out to do that summer with my Urban Green Team crew, Alison Ham and Marie Baffoe, was to have the graffiti cleaned up in the entire neighbourhood. We also shared the notion that murals are a great method for preventing graffiti from showing up; so naturally that's when the idea of painting a Mural was born. The next step was to find a location and to obtain the necessary permission and sponsorship."

"Earlier in the summer, we had the opportunity to repaint the Canadian flag on top of the house on the Southeast corner of Sherbrook and Sara. We hoped to paint the southerly wall facing the traffic on Sherbrook. However, that idea fell through because we tried to involve too many groups in the planning stage and thus a consensual image could not be found in the short time we had to plan and to realize this project."

"Walking in the neighbourhood, I happened to cross paths with Robert Loiselle, whom I knew from days at the Collge universitaire de Saint-Boniface. He happened to live on Langside and he wanted to get the graffiti removed from the wall of the apartment facing his house."

"I contacted the building owner, Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation, regarding our project. They were looking to clean off the graffiti but they we overjoyed by our proposal to decorate the exterior of their building. They gave us carte blanche to paint the wall and they even provided the painting materials for us to use."

"Next step was to decide what to paint. Of the four of us involved in the Mural, only Alison Ham was an artist. Time was running out and we needed an idea. We decided to bring a more natural look to the neighbourhood being that we were in the concrete jungle. We opted for the clich prariescape."

"The final challenge was painting the Mural. None of us have ever painted a Mural before and we had the added challenge of having to realize it in only 3 days (since our contracts were ending at that time). We painted frantically, using only four colours, improvising the artwork as we went along. We didn't consider the hydro pole in our design, but decided that it should be part of the Mural and give it a more three-dimensional look. As well, there was an autobin that was also included in the work."

"As we were painting, we noticed that some of the old tenants had etched their names in the bricks. Names and dates went as far back as the 1930's."

"It was a challenge to paint a canvas 30 meters by 3 meters in only 3 days. Everybody contributed ideas to improve the wall as we painted. We counted on Alison to show us how to paint the trees and the clouds."

"Finally, when it was done, we all were satisfied with our work and we all signed the wall. I still shake my head at myself for signing my name larger than the others (it was an accident-I didn't have the ability to make it the same size as the other's writing). Alison and Marie were tireless in painted the mural. Most importantly, they stuck by me and the idea even when it was looking like it wouldn't happen. The project was truly a group accomplishment. We had evidence of our summer of work. We added ourselves to the history of the building and to the charm of the neighbourhood."

Jol Ct and his wife currently live in Ottawa where he works as a civil servant. In an email from Nov 2003 he had this to say: "Good news-my wife and I are hoping to paint a Mural out here in Ottawa next spring. Your website has help me rediscover my creative side again. Thanks!"