Block party celebrates downtown murals

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Brandon celebrated its newest downtown murals — including a giant star blanket — with a block party Saturday afternoon.

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This article was published 22/07/2019 (1164 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon celebrated its newest downtown murals — including a giant star blanket — with a block party Saturday afternoon.

“This is what community is all about,” said Jason Gobeil, aboriginal community co-ordinator with the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council, as he emceed a ceremony kicking off the Wall-to-Wall Brandon Block Party on 12th Street next to Global Market.

“When you think about the quilting of a star blanket, think about community. Think about how much we are blended as a community, and when we are stitched together, man, we are strong, aren’t we?,” Gobeil said as visitors gathered on the street and on the Global Market grounds to listen.

» Saying a prayer Knowledge-keeper Frank Tacan says an opening prayer as the star blanket mural, seen on the side of a building on the other side of Global Market, is officially unveiled Saturday. (Bud Robertson/The Brandon Sun)

“I am so proud of the work that comes together when we truly shine as individuals and artists.”

Elder and knowledge-keeper Frank Tacan Sr. performed an opening prayer during the ceremony to mark the completion of the star blanket mural, which wraps around the Community Health and Housing Association building at 1233 Rosser Ave., and eight others in the downtown area that are either finished or will be this fall.

Another mural was completed last year.

Winnipeg artists Kenneth Lavallee and Annie Beach, along with local artists Cloie Gobeil and Jessie Jannuska, spent a week completing the star blanket mural.

Since 2016, Lavallee, who is of Métis descent, has partnered with Synonym Art Consultation to present the Star Blanket Project as a major programming element of its Wall-to-Wall Mural and Culture Festival.

Brandon’s star blanket mural was Lavallee’s first outside the province’s capital.

“It’s always been about community,” Lavallee said. “It’s very important to get the neighbourhood involved in painting an entire building. It takes literally a village to do.”

“With each star blanket mural, the experience is so different,” added Beach. “I think Brandon has definitely been the highlight of the Star Blanket Project, so far. Making an artwork for the community, and with the community, is really rewarding … I hope the star blanket keeps the community warm.”

“Thank you for sharing your art with our city, and thank you for sharing the Star Blanket Project with our downtown,” Elisabeth Saftiuk, executive director of the Brandon Downtown Development Corp., told the artists and members of Synonym Art Consultation.

“We are incredibly grateful.”

She and Carly Gasparini, executive director of the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corp., co-chair the public art and murals committee. Other members include the City of Brandon’s community development department, the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and downtown property owners.

“I think that when we allow creativity to flourish, we make an important statement that we are revitalizing our downtown in a really important way,” Saftiuk said.

Gasparini said the BNRC operates on a five-year plan, and what they always hear is the importance of art.

“We heard that art was a way to celebrate community, it was a way to foster relationships. It was a way to deal with safety concerns. It was a way to celebrate culture,” she said.

As he concluded the ceremony, Gobeil said, “I, for one, can truly say that today I am proud to be Indigenous, and I am proud to be a Brandonite.”

» brobertson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @BudRobertson4

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