Paint the town

Wall-to-Wall installs murals throughout the city

Erin Ahl and Jade Rennie-Harper’s mural on the Edmonton Street side of Fools and Horses.

Simeon Rusnak

Thanks to Synonym Art Consultation’s mural and culture festival Wall-to-Wall, colours will be bursting on bricks and buildings all over Winnipeg. 

In its second year running, creative directors Andrew Eastman and Chloe Chafe are looking forward to seeing their “little baby” of a festival gain more momentum. 

“The festival has really exploded from last year,” Chafe says. “Last year’s festival, we were very much so testing the waters to see if there was a desire for something like this in Winnipeg.” 

Turns out, Winnipeg’s reaction to the murals – like Puppy Love located in the Maryland Food Fare parking lot – was immensely positive. 

As the reception in communities for the festival was strong, Wall-to- Wall expanded this year to other areas including West Broadway, the West End, Downtown and the Exchange District, where 10 public works can be seen for free or at minimal cost. 

Expect to see new murals in and around places like The Good Will Social Club, The Handsome Daughter, Fools and Horses and The Urban Bakery. 

According to Jino Distasio, associate vice-president of research and innovation in urban studies at the University of Winnipeg, murals are an important feature to cities everywhere, including Winnipeg. 

“Cities are centres of art and exchange,” Distasio says. “As citizens, to be inspired in our cities, neighbourhoods and streets can transform the daily routine from simple to sublime.” 

Synonym aims to achieve this sense of daily awe by integrating art into public spaces as much as possible. 

“The number one benefit with creating street art has been the mass amount of participation in art appreciation,” Chafe says. “It’s as simple as folks waiting for the bus on their way to work and watching an artist create a 15 foot painting. It improves everyone’s day.” 

Wall-to-Wall aims to celebrate Winnipeg by creating an inspiring urban landscape. Citizens can build memories with their murals – commuting, dining, walking around them – and as a result strengthen the feeling of co-ownership and community around the art. 

“West Broadway is an example of a neighbourhood that is booming right now and not only for new businesses and housing popping up, but public art as well,” Eastman says. 

“It shows a commitment to building a strong, healthy, beautiful community and helps to brand it with an identity.” 

The public art Wall-to-Wall creates goes far beyond cosmetics for the city. It symbolizes a growth in community development. 

“I agree we need to fix potholes but also we need to fix our connections to each other and our communities,” Distasio says. “Art evokes dialogue, debate and change. Let’s embrace our city’s rich and colourful tapestry.” 

In the future, Synonym organizers say they hope to bring in Canadian and international artists to help further beautify the city and to mentor community artists. 

“Expect more murals, more parties, more community programming and more

Published in Volume 70, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 24, 2015)

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