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43 Sherbrook Street    Location Map
  

'A Look at The Nook'


Location: SW corner Sherbrook & Wolseley; North Face

Occupant: The Nook

District: West End

Neighbourhood: West Broadway

Artist(s): Sarah Collard (Collard Creations)

Year: 2011

Sponsors: Winnipeg Foundation, Take Pride Winnipeg!, West Broadway BIZ, Richardson Foundation, Inc.

 

Sarah Collard: "Driving north on Sherbrook over the river, past Misericordia Hospital at the first lights you will see the Nook Diner to your right, a restaurant that has been there for years. This popular breakfast stop is a long standing Winnipeg tradition. It has been a great place to get breakfast, lunch or supper and it has been the resting place for many tired nurses, students, patients, or just about anyone seeking a good meal. Mr. and Mrs Parasidis purchased the restaurant over 25 years ago from the Alba twins (Italian brothers) and have made a go of it ever since. Formerly it used to be a Salisbury house and hosted the typical red bar seats which were recently taken out but the booths remained. When Mr. Parasidis retired, his children Bill and Athina took over the business. Athina runs the Nook Diner on Sherbrook while her brother Bill runs the Nook and Cranny on Portage Avenue in St. James. Their parents, of Greek origin, allowed their heritage to shine, through their tasty meals and friendly manner. Everyone who walks through the door is treated like family and is given the royal treatment. According to patrons, they have the friendliest servers in town. Athina considers it her occupation to be cordial to all patrons, whatever their state or demeanor."

"Athina has wanted a Mural located here for some time. Since her walls were often tagged, she asked Take Pride Winnipeg if a Mural could be painted to curb graffiti. Since it took awhile for this to happen, the owners went ahead and renovated the outside, putting a new layer of stucco on the building, covering years of tagging. Since they spent so much on the renovations, Take Pride Winnipeg and West Broadway BIZ chipped in a little more to help the Nook out. We had a couple meetings where I met Bill, then Athina. She had collected several old photographs from senior patrons which showed the history of the exterior of the building and the many patrons that visited the establishment over the years. Together with a few other photographs from Misericordia Hospital, I came up with a design they loved. I went across the street to an attic in the hospital to find a photo of the original hospital taken in 1937 and the Single Mother's Birthing Hospital that used to stand beside the Nook in a residential house (where the parking garage now stands). Athina requested that the image of their uniquely designed T-shirts be somewhere in the design. As well, I asked them if they wanted their portraits in the Mural and I took their photos; Bill and Athina arm in arm."

"My goal was to recreate the past based on the historical photos I was given. Most were taken around 1940-50 and were excellent depictions of the black and white era. I took one photo and extended its sides and imagined where it would be, dropped the neighborhood beside it, Misericordia Hospital to the right and voila. I filled it with people standing, leaning, laughing in groups or alone to make it look like the patrons of the past. I included Bill and Athina's father who is standing in front of the door, looking like the Italian-Stallion (Sylvester Stallone). Behind them two figures emerge from the door with an old fashioned Coca-Cola advertisement below. Putting ads on the buildings was a way to pay for the building and was a common practice. In the old snapshots, the outside of their building was covered with Sweet Caporal ads which were elaborately painted. My initial drawing included these ads but since the city picks up thousands of butts per year, Take Pride Winnipeg requested that they be changed to other advertisements such as current sponsors. That is how the Take Pride Winnipeg logo, the Richardson Foundation, the Winnipeg Foundation and the West Broadway BIZ logo made it on the wall. Former owners names such as Bill and Athina, the Alba brothers, Queens Tea Room and Salisbury House were painted on the side of the wall, along with the actual words that used to be painted on the top of the building: 'refreshments', 'soft drinks', 'hot meals served'. My favourite part of the wall is the left side where the old birthing hospital stands in colourful detail and two old cars are parked. My Dad used to own a baby blue and red Ford Falcon so I thought of him when choosing the colours. The Alba brothers are posing side by side with the one cheekily stepping on the other's toes. Bill and Athina are painted with the most realism because I painted from a contemporary photo that I had taken. This provides me with more information and allows me to render the forms more realistically. I am happy with Bill's serious face looking up towards the future and Athina's compassionate face."

"The Nook was often open late at night and it was a great spot to go after hours when everything else closed. Often private school girls found themselves playing hooky in their seats. It was near several high schools such as Grant Park, St Mary's, Balmoral Hall, Kelvin and Westgate. On the right a 'Car Stop' stands with several boys waiting for the bus. One has his eyes closed as I chose to leave them closed to depict the blind patrons who pass by daily. In the window the Parasidis family is sitting down to play cards, with the Uncle (with a broken arm) on the left and Mr and Mrs Parasidis on the right. This scene reminds me of my Scottish Grandmother who often plays cards and my (deceased) Italian Grandfather who would count money on the old table downstairs. At the last minute I added a Greek border, my name on the wall (as an ad) and the characteristic quarter round that was so popular in the 50s."

"The benefits to painting this wall were many. The surface was new and smooth with a grainy texture which was nice to paint on. With this smooth surface I could achieve more details which I appreciated. On one weekend the West Broadway BIZ held the Sherbrook Street Festival where music played all day and people mingled. It was a busy site but I always had access to food and I could chain my scaffolding on a nearby lamppost overnight. I started it on September 1st and finished on September 18th. The owners were very generous, supportive and understanding. Tom Ethans graciously took care of the city permit ($125) that was required since my scaffolding stood on the sidewalk. One of their cooks made one of my favorite Greek treats; a Halifax donair and I discovered a vegetarian burger place "Boon Burger Cafe" just down the street."

"The road was always super busy during the day and it was difficult to get a good photograph of the whole wall since there were always cars parked along the street, in front of the Mural. When I did take the final photographs, I put up pylons to keep people from parking there, then I put the scaffolding on the other side of the street, set up my tripod on it's second level and shot the photos from there. This gave a better view of the wall which made better photographs."

"Overall, this Mural is a bright, historical look at the Nook through the years and I hope people will enjoy it for years to come!"