Mural, Mural, On the Wall

Now that the “lockdown” has come to an end, or at least we are being afforded a few more freedoms in our everyday living, I thought I should get busy writing about all the tourist attractions we have here in Red River North.

So, do I invite everybody to this summer’s rodeo? Nope, it’s cancelled for this year. How about the Art and Garden Show? Nope, same story! Same story for most festivals and summer festivities that we look forward to.

SO WHAT CAN I INVITE YOU TO DO?

I can invite you to take in the many outstanding features of Red River North that are accessible, easy to take in without encountering huge crowds, and perhaps best of all, very affordable.

How about enjoying the unique display of artistic ability presented in the Selkirk Mural & Public Art Project? I’m referring to the numerous murals painted on the walls of businesses, public buildings, and a number of institutions throughout Selkirk.

The stated purpose of this project is “to support and strengthen our communities through art”, and the success of the project to date is outstanding. Whether you live right in Selkirk, or anywhere in reasonable driving distance, the murals are easily accessible, and cost absolutely nothing to enjoy.

There are over a dozen such murals around the city, but I will highlight five to give you a taste of the project.

The first one appeals to the “junk collector” side of me. It’s a mural on the side of The House of Economy on Manitoba Avenue, that showcases several things from our past that are collectable and reusable: a tricycle, a Victrola gramophone complete with horn, old bowls and blankets or towels, and much more. Look closely and you will see that the artists have been sneaky. There are a number of metaphors in the mural, ranging from the traditional garden gnome, but with a “chip on his shoulder”, a “glass half full”, and “an elephant in the room”, as well as clouds with “a silver lining”.

Let your imagination roam, and you can find your own meanings and messages in the mural.

Don’t Judge Me…is another Manitoba offering, featuring a series of walking feet, expressing the concept of “walking together’, and “all walks of life”, and a crack on the road, symbolizing the fact that even those who may fall through the cracks may grow and shine as well as the idea of seeds sewn in the cracks.

Further east on Manitoba Avenue, you will encounter a beadwork path bringing people together towards healing, in the form of the Metis Infinity Sign. This mural features the four medicines – cedar, tobacco, sweet grass, and sage – radiating from the center of the infinity sign, while two beadwork flower gardens fill the inside of each of the loops. On the left is traditional Metis beadwork, while the right is Ojibway/Aboriginal. The animals of the Seven Sacred Teachings – bison, wolf, beaver, sa’be, eagle, bear, and turtle – are walking along the path.

At the east end of Manitoba Avenue, at the corner of Eveline and Superior, is The Gordon Howard Center. The mural on this building illustrates the variety of activities available for seniors at the center.

Turn right on Eveline and head toward  Clandeboye Avenue. On the west side of the street is a mural entitled “Rewiring Nous”, in which the child’s game of Cat’s Cradle becomes “a cosmic session of electrochemical psychotherapy”. A new mode of thought for a new generation.

Turn right on Clandeboye, and left onto Main Street, and you will see Three 6 Tea on the west side at the corner of Main and McLean Avenue. On the north side of the building is the mural Tea Time, which reminds you that despite the obstacles Life places in front of you, tea time will always set you right. Alice in Wonderland, and the White Rabbit will even join you. A person can’t help but be impressed with the 3-D quality of the umbrella in the mural!

These are just five of more than a dozen murals adorning building throughout Selkirk, and more are in the planning stage for later this year.

A scene from World War II on the Selkirk Legion, a lifelike portrait of Senator Murray Sinclair on Lord Selkirk Secondary School, a tribute to the Humboldt hockey team tragedy on the Selkirk Arena, a pictorial history of all the newspapers that have been printed in Selkirk, also featuring the first Indigenous steamboat captain are some of the others.

These murals are a testament to the talented artists who inhabit the area, while providing anyone taking time to view them with insights into the rich history of the of the area, the cultural diversity of the people who live here, while offering opportunities for creative thinking and self-examination to anyone who studies them for a few minutes.

Pamphlets are available at various locations, showing the locations of the murals, and describing a bit about the artists who created them, and the message conveyed by each. They are also available here on the RRN web site.

MURALS, MURALS, ON THE WALL, come to Selkirk, see them all.

Proof that whatever the season, there will always be a reason…

 To spend time in Red River North.

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