I didn’t have to travel very far for this week’s little adventure. As Eric was gallivanting around Banff, I made the jaunt all the way to exotic downtown Sudbury to participate in a mural walk, an EXPLORE Sudbury event hosted by Rainbow Routes Association (RRA) and Up Here. EXPLORE Sudbury is RRA’s “latest initiative towards healthy living and Greater Sudbury’s urban transformation”. It is a brand new (as of January 2017) volunteer-driven program that offers FREE guided urban hikes such as this one. They also offer lunchtime hikes, which is awesome for people who work downtown and want to add a little movement to their day and/or escape the office for a bit. Up Here, an annual art and music festival, is a project through the non-profit arts organization We Live Up Here, whose goal “is to celebrate Northern Ontario’s cultural identity through unique and inspiring artistic experiences”. The festival, which will be celebrating its third edition August 18-19 this year, attracts local and international artists and is transforming Sudbury’s downtown into an urban art gallery.
Despite the less than ideal weather (constant drizzle, icy sidewalks, big puddles…you get the picture), around 40 people gathered in Memorial Park for this event. Our leaders were Sharon, an RRA volunteer who ensured we all made it to each destination and herded us across intersections, and Nico from Up Here who gave us some interesting information about each mural. If you go to Up Here’s website, you can see each mural as well as a brief description and some artist information. This walk took 2 hours and was probably around 3 km total.
I really enjoyed learning more about each of these murals. It’s kind of (very) hard to miss them if you are downtown, but I had no idea who had painted them or the story/technique behind each one. I won’t claim to be an artist in any way, shape, or form but I think that’s part of the allure; they are accessible to anyone who happens to be downtown. You don’t have to go into an art gallery. Instead, you are forced to look at them (well, I guess you could close your eyes if you are vehemently anti-art) and you are going to have some sort of reaction, be it negative or positive. I think it’s cool how these huge pieces of art get people talking – just ask any Sudburian what they think about Walk Safe, Don’t Slip. Plus, they really do brighten up downtown, especially during the winters which can be grey, cold, and loooooooong.
Here’s some neat stuff I learned:
- Crowns were spotted on some of the murals and we learned this was a homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, a famous American graffiti/street artist.
- There’s a giant mural on the roof of Science North. We didn’t get to see this one since a helicopter ride was not included in our free admission (who would have thought? What a rip off), but that’s still pretty cool.
- That rooftop mural was done by French (from France…not the Valley) muralists Ella and Pitr, who are known for their Sleeping Giant murals. They also painted Big Little Bro in Sudbury by the train tracks across from McKewen School of Architecture. These guys have done murals all over the world and their “Lillith and Olaf” rooftop mural in Norway is one of the world’s largest at 225,000 square feet! And they made that one in only four days. Crazy.
- Hobz, who created the moose mural found beside Respect is Burning and is also France-French, included little messages and the names of people he met in Sudbury in his mural. I had never really noticed this one and it has become one of my favourites!
- Sudbury has a lot of walls. Now I’m always noticing which walls look naked and boring…and feel sad for them.
I’m sure there were more fun facts (I guess that last one is not so much a fact), but those are the ones that stood out to me/that I remember. I feel this event was a success and we were told there will be more mural walks in the future. You can check out RRA’s event calendar and sign up here. Now, take a peek at some of the lovely murals: