Bobby-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent with the City of Red Deer, and Kelly Andres, city community facilitator, say response to the first mural has been positive. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Bobby-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent with the City of Red Deer, and Kelly Andres, city community facilitator, say response to the first mural has been positive. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Mural artists making downtown Red Deer vibrant

Preparing for Meet the Street arts and culture festival

The first of 14 downtown murals to help transform Red Deer’s core for Meet the Street arts and culture festival is now complete.

The Sept. 3 to 5 festival will kickoff the month-long celebration of Alberta Culture Days in Red Deer.

The first completed mural, located in 49.5 Alley behind Housewarmings, makes passersby feel like they’ve entered a garden of giant wildflowers. White, sketched flowers float on a green background in the two-sided mural, and the nature-loving bee is highlighted in a red spotlight.

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Brandon Bouchard, manager of the downtown Tribe restaurant, said reaction to the mural has been great.

“It brings vibrancy to the neighbourhood just with paint. It’s space-making. Beautiful,” said Bouchard who regularly checked on the progress of the mural by Jessica Semenoff, of Calgary.

Having artists working outdoors in the downtown is also encouraging people to stop and take time to connect with each other, he said.

“It’s not uncommon to see the people walking by taking pictures, chatting with the artist. It’s really been something else,” Bouchard said.

Kelly Andres, community facilitator with the City of Red Deer, said staggering the painting of the murals was intentional.

“With some mural festivals, they have them all working together during a couple weeks. We decided to make it last the entire summer so there’s always something new for people to come and see,” Andres said.

A schedule of when artists will be working will be released next week.

Murals will adorn walls in 49.5 and 50.5 Alleys, located on either side of 50th Street. Three Red Deer artists will put their mark on downtown buildings, along with artists from elsewhere in Alberta and outside the province.

Andres said the project has created some excitement and it’s a way to show how much the downtown is loved.

“We’re just excited to welcome citizens back downtown. Businesses are open and ready for people to come. We hope this enhances their experience and just encourages them to spend time,” said Bobby-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent with the city.

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Bouchard said foot traffic has already increased.

“Everyone seems to be out and about and doing things, enjoying the outdoors and the businesses, safely of course.”

He said last summer was incredible and this summer should be even better.

“Get out of your car. Go for a walk. Check out the shops. Check out the restaurants and bars. Explore. There’s tons of art and things to see. It’s beautiful down here.”

For more information about the September festival visit www.reddeer.ca/MeetTheStreet.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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