The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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518 Maryland Street    Location Map
  

This Mural commemorates the life and work of Rev. Harry Lehotsky, a much loved activist in the West End.


Location: W side Between Sargent & Ellice; North Face

Occupant: Lazarus Housing

District: West End

Neighbourhood: Daniel McIntyre

Artist(s): Michel Saint Hilaire, Mandy van Leeuwen

Year: 2006

Sponsors: West End BIZ, AMC-Grand Chief Ron Evans, Tribal Council Investment Group, Mattress Depot, Harvey Smith (City Councillor), Royal Crown Banquet & Conference Centre, Krevco, Better Business Bureau, CKJS, David Billingkoff, Mario Santos

 

Mandy van Leeuwen: "We were contacted by the West End BIZ about this Mural with Harry Lehotsky as the subject. We met with Harry and Trudy (Turner, Executive Director of the West End BIZ) at the Ellice Cafe and chatted about what would go into the Mural- the various elements. The building renovations was representative of the Lazarus Project, a branch of the church's ministry, outreach program, and in fact, Harry's legacy. The renovation scene shown in the Mural is from a picture of one of the renovation projects. We picked it because we felt it was a strong image."

Michel St. Hilaire: "There was a lot of neat angles there and it was a very interesting house with turrets on each side."

Mandy: "The photos we saw didn't have scaffolding on them- we made that up, just to make it look like it was a work in progress."

Michel: "I guess there are 5 parts to this Mural. The first part is the quotation- that was important and was personally chosen by Harry. Next the city of Winnipeg, then his portrait, Ellice Cafe, and the renovation house. The staircase was a device to divide it, but was itself an important element."

Mandy: "The staircase is a symbol of new directions and moving forward (Ed Note- AND perhaps to suggest the movement towards a higher plain)."

Michel: "We put three individuals into the staircase. One was a stylized baker, symbolizing business owners in the West End. Then there is a pregnant lady with a child, representing motherhood; and then there is a black child with a basketball, representing youth. We chose the black and red to make a contrast- we didn't want to use skin tones with the people because it would blend right in with the background. And it worked out really well with the building to divide up the elements. It seems to flow better with the angled look."

Mandy: "We had several meetings with Harry. He was a really nice man. He was very driven, enthusiastic and full of spirit. He were a bit nervous when we unveiled his portrait to him- that was important because we wanted him to be totally happy with the way we captured his face."

"He didn't at first really want to have a picture of himself up on a building, but in the end he decided that this was a good thing to leave people with. We want people to remember in life that these things are very important. An icon such as himself has taught lots of people how to contribute certain things to everyday life. More people are doing that- there's more pay-it-forward going on. That was the spirit of the project. So once he realized that this was what was going to happen, he really warmed up to the idea of having his portrait there. (Ed. Note- It's harder to know or to identify with the subject of a Mural without the portrait)."

Michel: "That was a great wall. We had good times at the wall; everything came all together and went pretty smoothly. And we did it pretty fast- everyone wanted him to see it. The unveiling was on his birthday. The wall itself was great to work on. We had a beautiful platform lift that went end to end. The weather was great with no rain at all. Lots of people greeted us and complimented us as they went by. Lots of local residents came by. There were tourists stopping by as well! We had one frequent local visitor and we decided to put him in the Cafe scene. "

Mandy: "We were happy to have the opportunity to do this, and feel that we did the best that we could with it. We both felt a sense to honour to be the ones asked to do this."

Michel: "And it was done in the time that they wanted it done. The scene at the bottom is representative of the West End, but the houses are made up, though. We had a lot of houses around us. And some are broken, and other little things about them. One of them has graffiti!"

Mandy: "Biking there everyday, we would catch little details of buildings and exclaim 'yeah we need to put that in there'! Biking in the neighbourhood helped us give more of a feel for it."

Michel: "Inside the Cafe is every type of person, just as it is in real life, from businessman, police, and from all economic groups from the well off to the needy. Great food, nice atmosphere and great prices at the Cafe! One guy is reading the Sun, as Harry wrote his regular column for the Sun. He wanted that for sure in there."

Rev. Harry Lehotsky: "The Mural is amazing. I said when we started out that some of the things that were important to me, were, number one, the Faith Foundation, the drive for what I've done. There's something that's invisible to most people, but the driving force for my life, for which the cross at the top of the scaffolding symbolizes- and that gave me strength when I had no strength to get from anywhere else, and certainly none from within myself. You see there one of the fancier buildings we redid on Langside Street. The vision there was to capture it in various stages of completion. So many volunteer hours went into that and so many other buildings. It's a theme that can be hugely appreciated- when you first see something that was lit on fire, was abandoned, and was in horrible shape- most people said 'just tear it down' and some people had a vision with us: 'let's not tear it down, let's rebuild it'. And that was an awesome thing."

"And the vision of the city there in the background! I love the inner city and all of its people. The Ellice Cafe that you see there has been a huge success in many ways. It makes the inner city feel like a small town when you walk in that place. You see people from the neighbourhood, and people from all over the city will stop in for coffee or a meal and a great deal. It's a very exciting thing for me. The scariest part of the Mural was to think about some huge mug shot of me! I said 'please keep it in proportion to the other things that are way more important and the things that have actually happened and things that have changed people that we've gotten to know.'"