210 St. Cross Street
Location: N side bet. Polson & Inkster; North Face
Occupant: Luxton Community Centre
District: North End
Artist(s): Dorothy Roberts, Luxton Community Centre Children
Painters: Art Instructor: Dorothy Roberts
Dorothy Roberts (Art Teacher): "Some time ago, the city had accidentally cut down some
trees that were in front of this wall of the community centre, which made it a target for
taggers. It became costly to rewash this wall every time it was vandalized by taggers. So
the community centre thought of having a Mural there. We weren't sure about having an
artist come in and doing something there, because kids don't always appreciate having
something done 'for them'. Rather, we thought that by having them involved it would be
much better and perhaps more meaningful. This idea was largely that of our vice-president."
"When funding for the wall was obtained, they started looking for an artist to work with
the kids. One artist fell through, and then they came to me. I work at the Community
Centre, I'm on the executive there, and have taught classes to both children and adults.
Earlier in the summer, Julie (who works in arts and crafts there) asked the children to
draw out their responses to the question 'what do you think of your community centre-
what does it have to offer?' She compiled a file of the children's responses and gave
them to me. I took all of this material and looked at it, and chose elements from the
children which I felt would make a nice Mural. I then did some layouts and made
revisions to them based on the feedback from the Executive. One thing they had
stipulated was that we didn't want any faces or people in the Mural because they become
easy targets for graffiti."
"We prepared the wall. It was power washed with a high pressure sprayer (a member of
our Executive took this on). Then we coated it with a coat of top quality primer and then
2 coats of white paint. I talked to the children and young adults in the neighbourhood to
let them know that if the wall stayed clean and free from tags that they would all have a
chance to paint on it. In this way the word spread. I then came back and did the black
markings of the outline via projection; and we posted the layout sheet both at the school
and at the community centre so the children could see what it looked like and what they
would be working on. They could immediately see, too, that I had used their drawings as
the basis for the Mural."
"It was such an overwhelming response from them for having a chance to work on this
Mural. We got over 80 permission slips. It took me 3 days to do all the black markings
and even while I was working the kids would ask 'when can I start'! The ages varied- I
think we had a 3 year-old there, and we also had high school kids and all ages in between.
And we even had parents coming out to the wall. There were over 20 painting sessions,
weather permitting. Normally we worked from 6 to 7:30 in the evening. Some days
there would be only 3 kids- other days there could be up to 20; but usually there would be
somewhere around 7 painters come to the wall."
"One class at Luxton School is bussed in; and those kids would be at a disadvantage
because they would not be able to come in the evenings. So one day we brought a whole
class of these students to paint from the school in the morning during school hours; and
had a great time."
"The kids wanted to do perfect work at the wall. While they were picking their colours
they were all bouncing around; but once they got to the wall they were perfectly calm.
The wall must have felt intimidating to them, for it was such a large project; and that
being there was like a great privilege. Each brushstroke was meticulously done by
almost every single student."
"Back at the beginning of the project, I had asked at the community centre 'who of these
kids is here the most'. Those are the children that I wanted to give first choice as to
where they worked. The older, taller children worked the higher parts of the wall for the
most part. Neighbours and passersby were very positive, and said that the Mural 'would
cut out the graffiti there- tremendous!'"
"The kids, the community centre and the neighbourhood are all happy with the Mural.
I'm certain they would consider doing another outdoor Mural on another wall of the
Centre in the near future."