Monday, 29 October 2012 13:11

Mural project growing in the City of Brooks

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This is a sampling of just a few of the murals in the City of Brooks thanks to the work of the Communities in Bloom committee. This is a sampling of just a few of the murals in the City of Brooks thanks to the work of the Communities in Bloom committee. Photo courtesy City of Brooks

Four years ago the Brooks Communities in Bloom committee kicked off a mural project in the city which this year saw the completion of the most murals done to date — seven — making the total in the city 14.

Members of the committee spent the first year of the program in 2009 doing quite a bit of research about murals, especially looking to the City of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan which has become well-known for its life-size paintings on business walls.
“We spent the first year doing research,” says Jackie Murray, treasurer of the Brooks Communities in Bloom committee.
Members researched artists who specialize in murals, interviewed them and looked at the legal aspects and agreements that have to be in place in order to proceed.
The first mural painted that year was a representation of both the City and the County of Newell as both had stepped forward to fund the mural project through the Municipal Sustainable grant.
“The only stipulation with that money is the first mural had to represent both the County and the City,” says Murray.
The committee decided the mandate of the mural project would be to represent the history of Brooks and area.
Murals completed the first year included a western one representing four local well-known cowboys who are all deceased.
“We got 95 people to that dedication,” says Murray.
Another mural was painted on a building in the industrial area to represent the oilpatch and oil and gas history of Brooks and area.
In 2010, two murals were completed. The first celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Brooks Bulletin featuring a sepia-toned image. The second was a mural on the side of the Legion to represent Brooks’ war-time involvement.
In 2011, a mural called Prairie Splendor was completed. It was unique in that an artist came and helped direct 124 people to paint on 12 by 12 squares. These 124 squares were then placed on the wall to create the whole mural of a flower scene.
“It is very bright and it really got people interested (in the mural project),” says Murray.
This year, the most murals were completed in the city. They included a second Legion mural representing the Ragan family; a steam train mural on the side of the dry cleaners; one representing Japanese heritage; one of a cattle roundup in the Badlands; one of a grain elevator; the Brooks rider mural on the Brooks Hotel; and a mural on the old fire hall representing the Badlands near Patricia.
So many murals could be commissioned this year thanks to funding from the City of Brooks. Funding is also received from the Community Spirit grant and private sponsors.
Two of this year’s murals were completed by local artists Bernadette LeCaine-French and sisters Lorraine Spence and Carol Iwaasa.
A special dedication ceremony for the murals took place in September. Since the murals were on buildings close to one another, the group of people wandered around to look at them and could hear from the artists who painted them.
Some business owners have already come forward expressing interest in having a mural on their properties in future years.
The committee will continue to complete as many murals each year as possible, based on available funding.
“We’ve had great participation from businesses,” says Murray. “We can’t do anything alone. We are the force behind it all, but nothing can be done without the acceptance and participation of business owners.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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