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celebrating wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg Hosts Month-long Wall-to-Wall Festival

Last September, Winnipeg’s north end was home to a month-long celebration of public art. The event was called the Wall-to-Wall festival and was put on by Winnipeg’s Synonym Art Consultation. It also gave a facelift to one part of the city that could use more colour and artistic celebration.

The Consultation organized two groups of artists to create two gigantic murals that are now part of Winnipeg’s north end. One group, headed by a 17 year-old artist from Nunavut named Parr Josephee, created a mural that you can now see at 611 Main Street. The other group, lead by local artist Kenneth Lavallee, painted a mural dedicated to murdered and missing Indigenous women. “I’m from the North End, too, so this is my hood. It’s a way of having some ownership of your neighbourhood,” Lavallee said in an interview with Metro News. “The idea was to dedicate it to the cause of missing and murdered aboriginal women and have a nice, subtle way to say, ‘hey, we’re still here, we’re still important.’”

mural from wall to wall in winnipeg

Josephee designed her mural with South-American artist pair Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack. The piece focuses on proposed seismic tests that may occur in Clyde River, which Inuit fear will affect narwhal and other marine mammals. The piece features “features two narwhals with lungs full of water and other life.” Josephee says the piece is in solidarity with that fight.

Josephee is also excited to contribute to Winnipeg’s growing art scene. “It’s amazing,” she said in an interview with the CBC. “When I was younger, I didn’t think I was going to be a part of any murals or anything. I wasn’t expecting this and I’m so happy I’m a part of this.”

aerial view of mural from wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg artists and volunteers got a little help from outside the city as well. The Toronto-based art collective PA Systems also came out to help organize, prime walls, and paint the murals. A member of the group, Alexa Hatanaka, says public art is an important part of the modern world because it engages people in their everyday lives. “Public art really engages people in a way that’s different,” she told Metro News. “There are so many difficult things we face on this planet that sometimes it’s hard to sit down on the computer and read about it. But art engages you in a different way to start thinking about important issues. I think it’s special in that way.”

The Wall-to-Wall’s willingness to be political and help beautify an area of their city proves that art festivals can be about much more than aesthetics. These pieces reflect real struggles facing communities across the country and in their immediate area, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the festival volunteers.

website header from the cambridge street art festival

The Cambridge International Street Art Festival

We have covered a number of different festivals that have happened over the years. They’re often in incredible cities, like Hong Kong or Sydney; big cities encouraging artists to come out and beautify the streets. But street art festivals aren’t simply happening in big cities, they’re happening everywhere, including the sleepy town of Cambridge, Ontario.

Situated on the slopes of the Grand River, Cambridge is perhaps most famous for sharing its name with a well-known English university, and as a growing place with a great sense of history. What many people don’t know is that it has an amazing relationship with the arts and is a natural fit for its own street art festival, which celebrated its second anniversary this year.

graffiti style street art mural painted at the cambridge street art festival

The Cambridge International Street Art Festival had its start in Florida, of all places, where the festival’s founders came across the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival. The two were instantly inspired by the thousands that had attended and, to put it in their words, “the magical abilities of truly amazing artists creating art, with chalk (or pastels) on the streets.”

The festival has many of the activities and events that you would expect from a street art festival. The city has set aside spaces where artists can create beautiful murals, some of which will become more permanent fixtures in the already beautiful city. Attendees can come by and see the art being made, go to panels about art and street art, and even screen a couple of cool documentaries.

young boy standing next to chalk board art wall at the cambridge street art festival

What makes the Cambridge International Street Art Festival unique is its encouragement of artists of any level to come out and participate. Their chalk art program provides free chalk to anyone who wants it and offers spaces for them to draw up murals, cartoons, or whatever they want. While obviously popular for children, the Festival encourages all attendees who want to draw to come and contribute. And while it gets washed away in the first rain, the pieces people create can be truly beautiful and inspiring.

mural artist sitting next to a perspective mural piece rendered on the street at the cambridge international street art festival

By celebrating local artists and encouraging attendee participation, the Cambridge International Street Art Festival offers a more intimate and unique festival experience than ones further down the road in Southern Ontario. You can see the art truly up close and interact with the artists in a more relaxed environment. Plus, Cambridge is a beautiful city only enhanced by its open embrace of the festival and the artwork it facilitates. Plus, its commitment to participation means you can connect with regular people trying out art, and artists wanting to try something different.

If you live in Southern Ontario, the Cambridge International Street Art Festival is an excellent way to escape the big city and see street art up close. It happens every year in August. Next year’s festival is still taking applications for artists and volunteers, so there’s still a chance to participate.

sea walls mural being painted by mural artist in napier new zealand

Sea Walls – Murals for Oceans

Public art can serve many different functions. It can help raise awareness about certain issues, beautify a space, claim an area, or even make a bold political statement about a subject about which the artist deeply cares. These are all amazing reasons to participate in and make art in a public setting, and there’s one festival that tries to encapsulate all of these reasons into a single event. 

Taking place this year in Napier New Zealand, Sea Walls is a festival dedicated to art, the ocean, and everything that makes both of these things important and necessary. This year, the festival took place over eleven days in March and was comprised of many different kinds of events and moments, all of which were dedicated to promoting and drawing awareness to ocean conservation issues that effect the local area. The festival is different from most other street artist festivals in that it moves around. Previously, Sea Walls drew attention to ocean conservation issues in cities like Los Angeles, Vietnam, Mexico and Sri Lanka. The festival is put on by the international nonprofit, the PangeaSeed Foundation.

mural from sea walls by Jason Botkin (Canada) & Cinzah Merkens (New Zealand)

Jason Botkin (Canada) & Cinzah Merkens (New Zealand)

New Zealand is home to some of the most unique and interesting ocean environments in the world, including plenty of important coral reefs and ocean creatures that diversify the ocean landscape and make it stronger and healthier. But, like many other natural spaces around the world, New Zealand’s oceans are facing a number of different threats, from pollution to the impact of rising water temperatures.

sea walls mural by Chris Konecki (USA)

Chris Konecki (USA)

Sea Walls tries to use public art and a street art festival to do three major things: beautify Napier’s streetscape, raise awareness about local ocean conservation issues, and to make bold statements about the importance of our world’s oceans. The goal is important and artists certainly seemed to agree: they came from around the world to participate in and create some beautiful pieces in support of Sea Walls’ project and goals. 

Even Napier’s City Council was on board for the festival, donating over $30,000 to help the festival with its costs, mostly to help the artists come and do their work. This move is especially important, since street art and local government are often seen as at odds. But Sea Walls has proven time and again that the relationship between a government and street artists and muralists can not only be productive, but mutually beneficial.

Sea Walls is an important festival because it proves that street art, murals, and local issues can share a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. Since our world’s waters are some of the most interesting places we have on this earth, and the most delicate, any and all tactics to raise awareness and money are important for future life on earth. Organizations like PangeaSeed Foundation are using street art to help draw attention to specific issues and, in doing so, can help make a difference in important issues around the world.

montreal mural festival artwork by etam cru

Montreal Mural Festival: Celebrating an Artform with a Giant Party

Imagine getting some of the best people of your particular interest all together in one place. You all get the opportunity to show off and then, while you’re enjoying doing your favourite thing in the world, you get to head off and party with your peers, your idols, and your friends. Does that sound like an okay time? Well, the Montreal Mural Festival thinks it’s a great idea.

Montreal is already home to a bunch of great festivals. Jazz Fest, the Comedy Festival, and even events like Osheaga attract the best artists, comedians, and musicians from around the world. They have an amazing setup for their events, encourage people to get excited and involved, and do it in one of the greatest cities in the world. The last time I was in Montreal, my friend told me that it was the first city they’d been to that felt like it breathed. I tend to agree. It has a special energy to it unlike other North American cities and wears that on its sleeve. Go anywhere in Montreal and you’ll experience something different from elsewhere.

In keeping with their love of only the best, the Montreal Mural Festival reached out across the globe, nabbing Australian muralist Rone and France-based La Diamantaire for their efforts. These two and many more international muralists were joined by Canadian artists like Stikki Peaches, Alex Produkt, and Matthieu Connery, all of whom worked together to give Montreal a mural facelift.

And while the muralists were glad to do their work, almost all of them took some time to enjoy the city, it’s people, and their fellow artists. The Festival itself proved to be a great distraction, scheduling no less than six official after parties packed with great music and plenty of other distractions. The event turned out to be somewhat of a meet-and-greet, the greatest networking meeting for mural artists in North America, and in one of North America’s greatest cities.

The Festival itself had a slow start and some organizational difficulties starting out this year. Anyone who knows Montreal has experienced its bizarre weather and the Mural Festival wasn’t spared. Supply shortages also lead to some delays, but all the murals were up and completed by the end. And, unlike other festivals that just leave behind abandoned tents and a lot of litter, the Montreal Mural Festival left behind some beautiful public art that everyone can enjoy.

Such highlights include Zoitan’s comic book and War of the Worlds-inspired mural, 2501’s kaleidoscope of black and white shapes and animals, and Cyrcle’s perspective-changing Pantheon. These are all just a taste of what Montreal got out of it’s latest mural festival. Hopefully these pieces will stay up until at least next year’s events, any hopefully the festival continues to attract the world’s best muralists and public art enthusiasts.

montreal-mural-festival-VILX1
VILX, FRANCE

montreal-mural-festival-RONE_Paris_StreetArtNews-6
RONE, AUSTRALIA

montreal-mural-festival-Etam-Cru

BEZT FROM ETAM CRU, POLAND

montreal-mural-festival-academia_in_dispute-823x1024
ALEX PRODUKT, CANADA

For more great works of art visit the festival’s muralists page.