Favourite Local Public Art Piece

1. Smile by Tierney Milne and Brother Jopa on the Food Fare at Westminster and Maryland

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

1.   Smile by Tierney Milne and Brother Jopa on the Food Fare at Westminster and Maryland / Star Blankets by Kenneth Lavallee / Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei at The Forks (Three-way tie)

This fall, 14 new murals sprung up around the city during the sixth annual Wall-to-Wall Mural & Culture Festival.

Among them was Smile, a piece created by Tierney Milne and Brother Jopa (John Park) in collaboration with Synonym Art Consultation and members of Studio 393, a local youth-led artist studio.

Milne and Brother Jopa are both visual artists based out of Vancouver. They share a studio with a number of other freelancers. Milne says “we became friends over the years because we work really similarly ... whenever we can we’re painting together, for sure.”

Before starting her life as a full-time freelance artist four years ago, Milne studied psychology. She explains that this sparked her interest in “how people interact with art and how they perceive colour ... how art makes them feel.”

She says she reached out to Synonym to inquire about Wall-to-Wall because of their collaborative emphasis.

“I saw that they had a mentorship program,” she says, “They were so grassroots and had a lot of community support. It seemed super cool.”

The creation of Smile began with a word-generation workshop conducted by Synonym’s Andrew Eastman at Studio 393.  Through a series of activities, the youth there came up with the word “smile.”

“And we were so excited, because it’s the perfect fit,” Milne explains. “We really wanted to leave a positive mark when we came, so we took their prompt and we ran with it ... thinking about the best way we could leave a lot of colour and something to feel bright and evergreen even in the cold months.”

Smile, a large, colourful, text-based mural, can be found on the corner of Maryland and Westminster on the side of the Food Fare building.

Milne and Brother Jopa are now back in Vancouver, planning their projects for the upcoming year. They can be found on instagram at @tierneymilne and @brotherjopa.

Published in Volume 74, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 28, 2019)

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