The Art Alley project is underway again with three talented local artists rejuvenating a wall of Fratters Speakeasy.
The initiative is a partnership between the City of Red Deer and the Downtown Business Association (DBA). Its goal is to promote positive social impact by adding vibrancy and culture to the downtown, encouraging more activity and enjoyment.
“Street art initiatives are thriving in cities across North America and throughout the world,” said Project Coordinator Steve Woolrich.
“Projects such as this support public art and revitalization but more importantly have the potential to create social change. When we create more public art – in this case, street art – we entice people to get out and see their community and this generates more activity on our streets.”
This year Christine Karron, Brian Usher and Bryan Heimowski have been chosen to decorate and liven up the space. The wall has portraits of several influential musicians from across a variety of genres, eras and cultures.
Karron said the project is exciting because it’s challenging her to work outside of her own ideas and style. “I’m used to working alone. I’ve been painting and drawing all my life, and I’ve always done it myself. The challenge for me is to now work with others. I’m not one to walk in and say that we’re just doing it my way – I want to work with the others to combine our talents and make something,” she said.
“It’s a positive challenge. It’s a chance to work with people and to do not only my style, but to share it with someone else and see how it looks in the end. We have no idea how it will look in the end and to me that’s amazing. I’m so excited.”
Usher was also excited for the opportunity to learn something new and to leave a mark on his community.
“I’ve done some art locally, like the downtown piano a couple of years ago on Ross Street and (Art Alley) was another opportunity to get my work out there publicly,” he said.
“As well, I haven’t done much graffiti but I’m very inspired by street art. I’ve not done anything on that scale before so this seemed like a good opportunity to approach that. I’ve done a few large-scale pieces on canvas, but this is a chance to build on that. Also, Bryan Heimowski is a graffiti artist so I’m hoping to learn from aerosol skills from him.”
Heimowski was unavailable at the time of interviews, but will return to Red Deer in August to contribute to the project.
This year the project also features a youth mentorship aspect, where at-risk youths are given the chance to assist the artists. Both Usher and Karron expressed their excitement to see how that partnership develops.
Woolrich referred to this portion of the project as, “A healing process for those youth that long for more meaningful connections and an opportunity to give to their community.”
Artists will be working on the mural throughout the summer. Citizens are encouraged to stop by to check out the work and engage with the artists.