Hundreds drawn to northeast Calgary community to build community mural
A community art project in Coventry Hills is inviting hundreds of people to pick up their brushes to add their mark, but the mural has also become a labour of love for one family.
All through the Heritage Day long weekend, residents from all over Calgary will be able to add to a massive grassroots public art project that will produce the longest mural in the whole country.
The project is headed by local artist Mark Vasquez-MacKay who designed the whole piece and then left it up to members of the community to fill in the rest.
He says that when he looked at the proposal for the project, he noticed there was a call for community involvement so came up with the collaboration idea.
“This neighbourhood is known for their fences and so if there are so many fences, why not put a mural on it.”
Soon enough, a number of community members got on board with the idea and now the doors have been swung open to anyone who wants to help out and get creative.
The piece, believed to be three times longer than the largest mural in Canada takes in all sorts of elements from communities in the City of Calgary.
Some of them are reflections on important places in the city while others have a focus on some special people who were recently lost.
Pat and Jakub Labrash, a father and son, came out to contribute to the project to memorialize a close friend, Alan Pennylegion, who was one of three victims in a Calgary homicide case earlier this week.
Pennylegion was a football mentor, so the pair wanted to paint a helmet for the man they called ‘coach’.
“He gave back in many ways that I can’t even count,” says Pat. “Having lost a friend, it definitely helps. It’s sort of soothing and relaxing at the same time.”
Up to 1,500 volunteers are expected to contribute to the mural over the duration of the project.
Vasquez-MacKay says he hopes the artwork will also spawn a desire for more murals in other parts of the city.
“I think by having the biggest one in Canada, now Calgary has upped the ante with murals.”
If you’re interested in taking part, you can head to the corner of Coventry Hills and Country Hills Boulevard N.E. on Sunday or Monday between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
The Northern Hills Community Association raised $175,000 for the project from community donations. For more information and how to sign up as a volunteer, you can go to the community's official website.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help gather funds to support Pennylegion’s surviving family members.
(With files from Alesia Fieldberg)