A Look Back At The East Village Mural Project
Do you remember what you were doing in September of 2016? I remember quite vividly.
There are certain times in our lives that become pivotal looking back. These moments play feature roles in our life story. For me, installing my work in East Village was one of those moments.
IIt was late September and it was cold. My daughter was only 8 months old. We had just moved back to Calgary after living in Nelson, BC for a year and I was been working day and night to complete the work that would become the large murals on the RiverWalk path in East Village.
The weather didn’t coordinate with me at all - it was cold and rainy. I would start at 5am with my team and work well into the hours of the night.
The end result was a set of 9 murals, all paying tribute to the animals and natural spaces weaved throughout Calgary’s urban environment, our proximity to them and how this communion elevates the culture and spirit of our communities.
Some behind-the-scenes pictures from 3 years ago…
Now, almost three years later, it is time to say goodbye to the project as it makes way for new artwork from a different artist.
If you’re surprised by the fact that these are being taken down, know that this was the plan all along. In fact, there have been two separate artists displayed in this space before me, and there will be many more after. As of right now, this mural project is aimed to rotate every 2-3 years. This makes it a great opportunity to feature a variety of artwork from different artists.
For me it's a bittersweet feeling because even though I'm very proud of this work, it's time to take what I've learned and move on to create new and exciting projects. Over the years I've learned to acknowledge struggles that I've overcome and use them as fuel to go after bigger dreams.
I first applied for this project project in 2012 and was not accepted. I remember being crushed and for whatever reason, likely tremendous support from my wife, the failure wasn't paralyzing. It encouraged me to do better. So over the next three years I was able to elevate my artwork to a place that would have me awarded the project in April 2016.
The scope of the project was to create 9 artworks across 15 walls. Each wall should compliment the next and be cohesive regarding the underlying story. In East Village there are these walkable areas surrounded by nature on one side and cultural hubs on the other.
We can take our daughter to the National Music Centre or the Calgary Public Library, then to the Simmons building for a coffee before a bike ride along the river and through the trees. Watching my daughter learn about the riparian zone between land and river without leaving the city is a tremendous privilege that I wanted to share with the public through these artworks. These pathways and what they give access to mean so much to me and my family that they became the primary inspiration for this project.
We all have stories about the wildlife we encounter along these pathways so I re-presented these encounters in large immersive landscapes. It's a reminder that even though we live in a big city, we're still surrounded by nature. I like to think that this reminder is good for our mental health and the wildlife. Plus, maybe one less cigarette butt was thrown on the ground during the lifespan of these murals.
So for the past few years I've been able to walk with my family along the river feeling tremendous gratitude knowing that I had this opportunity to share my work with you. I hope that in some way it brought joy to your day.
And if you haven’t yet had a chance to see the murals, there is still a little bit of time left before they’re taken down. I don’t have an exact date, but it will be some time near the last week of June.