Synonymously paints the town – Winnipeg Free Press

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This article has been published 11/20/2017 (1341 days ago) the information it contains may no longer be current.

“It only appears monumental because it is art.”

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff said this – in an interview with Eye-Level in 2002 – about the massive environmental objects that he and his late wife Jeanne-Claude were famous for to install around the world. Bridges, skyscrapers or highways rarely make us stare – it’s public art that demands attention, whether it’s the size of a postage stamp or miles long.

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that Andrew Eastman and Chloe Chafe changed the city with their collective Synonym Art Consultation. SAC aims to employ artists and bring art to the public, and their annual wall-to-wall mural festival is responsible for some of the largest and brightest artwork in town.

“It’s the most exciting thing that can happen to our town because it’s no longer what Andrew and I want to do,” said Chafe. “It’s about finding out what the community wants to do.”

ALANA TRACHENKO / LIFE / TOGETHER is a collaborative mural inspired by harmony and community located on Main Street.

In September 2017, Wall-to-Wall was the fourth year that ended with a total of over 30 murals commissioned by SAC from both local and guest artists. The West Broadway-based collective focused their efforts on both their homeland and the North End.

“It’s really exciting to have these two parts of town … as different curatorial opportunities for us to use,” said Eastman. “Some (murals) wouldn’t be translated into the North End. They’d be swallowed up by the gray, while here (West Broadway) we can paint a four-foot-high mural and it has almost the same effect as a huge wall in the North End.

“It’s important to tailor projects to the communities themselves, and we don’t just pocket something.”

Among the festival’s most notable creations are the New West Hotel on Main Street, completely whitewashed in preparation for a group of artists who used only black paint, and a bright neon mural on one wall of the Élan Hair Studio on Sherbrook Street.

“It’s something that people walk by every day and associate it with their life,” said Eastman.

Because of this, Chafe and Eastman spend a lot of time each fall consulting with the community before getting to work.

“West Broadway is more likely to be consultation with business owners, and in the North End, it’s more conversations with elders and organizations like the North End Community Renewal Corporation,” said Chafe. “So much magic comes from these conversations that it’s basically impossible not to go ahead.”

“The amazing connections we make really catch up with us when we’re down,” added Eastman. “The artists we work with are so important to us to get them a job. In order to continue offering these opportunities, we just want to keep going.”

ALANA TRACHENKO / Local artist Gabrielle Funk is working on LIVE / TOGETHER, a two-part mural on Main Street.

Look inside from the outside

About half of the artists who participated in this year’s Wall-to-Wall Festival were mostly from other parts of Canada.

Rachel Ziriada, 26, and Mikhail Miller, 32, make up the joint team NASARIMBA, and they came from Calgary to work on the colorful geometric piece by the side of the Élan Hair Studio (156 Sherbrook St.). The enormous size required four 10-hour days for the artists working in the fields of sculpture, printmaking, installation and painting.

“There are other similar festivals in Canada and around the world, but we’ve found that their program here is really very well thought out,” Miller said.

“It was amazing to be an artist with (synonym) because they were great supporters and the fact that we are also traveling artists, they were great,” added Ziriada.

The couple said Winnipeg has its own vibe when visiting other venues and art festivals around the country.

“Winnipeg is unique in the way it gets contemporary murals, that’s the style we noticed and that’s pretty cool,” said Ziriada.

NASARIMBA’s piece certainly fits the contemporary theme, and the two say their values ​​align with what SAC is also trying to achieve.

“In the art world there is a shift towards public engagement and moving outside of the gallery space, so I think we fall into that category,” Miller said.

Her piece on Élan includes Art Deco, which Miller says can be found in some of Winnipeg’s architectures.

“Art Deco is a style of art and architecture from the 1930s and 1940s. There are certainly some of that in architecture in Winnipeg. So it’s kind of a nod to that time and it was a time of creativity after the First World War,” said Müller.

“But we’re also joking that it’s influenced by Sunice, a ’90s company that made neon clothing from Calgary, so it’s like a combination.”

ALANA TRACHENKO / Jill Stanton’s surreal still life plays with themes of nostalgia.

Jill Stanton came from Edmonton to create a small, surrealist mural that is now on display outside the Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook St.). It was her first time in Winnipeg, which she says is like Edmonton’s somewhat “darker” twin town.

“In a good way that I really appreciated,” said Stanton. “In the 1970s we got the oil boom and there was all the money to tear down old buildings and build new, less beautiful buildings. All these people with a lot of money and little taste were suddenly doing what they wanted.” .

“But it never happened in Winnipeg, for better or for worse, so you get an interesting mix of beautiful old architecture and wonderful ghost finds. Only the city itself is really beautiful.”

She says her mural is inspired by Winnipeg’s “Alternative Dimension Edmonton Thing” and combines surreal still lifes with colors that Stanton says can be found on an old vintage paperback.

She says she became addicted to the public aspect of murals.

“They are public works of art. You really think about all the types of public that you put these works of art for. There are people who live in the area, work in the area and people who just come by and all different walks.” of life.”

ALANA TRACHENKO / Sun Ice spirit level by the Calgary duo NASARIMBA combines Art Deco and 90s color schemes. The piece took four days to complete.

Community canvases

The New West Hotel (786 Main St.) was once brown, drab, and at the gateway between the North End and downtown Winnipeg, a place some people might avoid.

During the Wall-to-Wall Festival, cars and pedestrians alike stopped to watch the massive transformation of the old brick building: hip-hop music boomed from the speakers while artists patted spray paint and brushes up and down ladders while residents chatted on the sidewalk with artists and new-found friends.

During that warm, sunny week of September, the New West Hotel suddenly became a landmark.

Recreational and Wellness Connection for North End Renewal Corporation Andrew Sannie said it was an example of how public art can bring people and communities together that otherwise might not interact.

“Fine art is exactly the same for you who live in the South End as it is for anyone who lives here,” Sannie said outside the New West Hotel. “We are all human, we are all human … bringing different communities together is what art has always done.”

He was the project leader of this year’s Wall-to-Wall festival and said that some of the memories that really stand out this month are the comments from the locals.
“Just go through it and hear people talking about it and get inspiration from what’s on the walls. It just really makes this community come alive,” Sannie said.

ALANA TRACHENKO / One side of the New West Hotel.

“They say ‘(the mending mural), she’s talking to me, she’s telling me to stand up.

“We got this amazing email from someone, I don’t know what building she lives in, but she sent this phenomenal email to thank you for changing the look of my block … a really tough day. We were in the middle of the week, needed a small pickup and got this message. ”

And by changing one block or one street at a time, wall-to-wall changes the face of the city.
“People fell in love with Winnipeg when they come here and toyed with the idea of ​​moving here because they love it,” said Eastman.

“Just because a community’s buildings are dilapidated doesn’t mean the people are,” added Chafe. “It’s important to show the city that this is a community with so many types of people and (they) are so hospitable and excited and love art and deserve that kind of art.”

Eastman said while our art scene may not be on par with Montreal or Toronto, we are catching up quickly, and the amount of wall real estate paired with companies passionate about working with artists is a heavenly pair.

“What makes artists really exciting is how much space we have here and how open to content, styles and stories,” said Chafe. “Because the scene isn’t that big, you’d think people wouldn’t want it here, but I think that’s totally wrong.

“Whenever something happens here, the community is so grateful for it.”

ALANA TRACHENKO / Nibaa by Mike Valcourt is located at 171 Princess St.

Alana Trachenko

Alana Trachenko
Community Journalist – The Metro

Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro

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