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Back-alley wall inspires mural

After 20 years of looking out his kitchen and staring across the alley at a boring white wall, David Sidwell decided it was a blank canvas instead of just the side of a garage.

So he approached his across-the-alley neighbour, Peter Olson, and asked him if he wouldn’t mind it being painted.

Olson was on board, and for four days this week a mural of the East Coast in the Gaspe peninsula area in Quebec has been painted where a white wall used to be, at 40 Oreston Close.

“We’ve been looking at this white wall for 20 years and I said, ‘Pete, I’d like to paint your wall,’” said Sidwell who lives at 14 Orillia Park. “He said ‘Sure, go ahead.’”

Doing the painting is local artist Tia Ramsfield. She was thrilled to be asked to paint the mural, her first solo work of a project of this scale.

She sees plenty of opportunity in the back-alley mural, or in this case legal urban art.

“I thought maybe it would be intimidating to use the big space, but I think with the sunset as a simple image it really wasn’t that tough for me,” said Ramsfield. “It has flowed.”

Olson’s garage runs alongside the alley with the two doors parallel to it. Her canvas is a roughly a 10 by 30-foot blank slate that she has turned in to a sunset over a seascape.

The idea to paint the wall came out of the blue for Sidwell.

“It’s refreshing and the neighbours are loving it and anybody that drives by the back alley, they slow down and watch and look,” said Sidwell.

“It’s really quite cool.”

Starting today, Sidwell and his family can look out their kitchen window and see the completed work while sipping their morning coffee. He hopes it will be a welcoming visual relief, especially in the winter time when it is -40C.

“We went to Rona and because there are so many colours involved in the mural we got three gallons of primary colours,” said Sidwell. “So she had primary colours and made whatever colours she wanted.”

Ramsfield sees the project as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of urban art.

“I’ve wanted to do murals, I love street art and hidden art, like under bridges, abandoned buildings or trains,” said Ramsfield.

Ramsfield would like to see more walls in Red Deer with murals on them.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting if people took pride in their back alleys, a lot of people do, but every garage door is blah,” said Sidwell. “Maybe we should start a movement of back-alley art.”

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