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A change in scenery in North End

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A local artist whose work has graced buildings around the city has added another colourful image to a north Winnipeg neighbourhood.


On Dec. 6, Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba and Take Pride Winnipeg! Inc. unveiled a mural by Charlie Johnston of C5 Artworks, which Johnston painted on the side of Avenue Meats at the corner of Selkirk Avenue and McGregor Street during the fall.


The mural depicts a quiet, tree-lined Winnipeg street with blue recycling bins in order to promote the benefits of recycling.


Avenue Meats co-owner Wondimu Kidane said he is pleased with the way the finished product looks.


"It’s very good, it looks very good," he said.


During the official "unveiling" of the mural (it was difficult to actually cover up, given it measures 14 by 100 feet), representatives from MMSM and Take Pride! spoke about the mural’s message and the responsibility of citizens to embrace it.


"The artwork depicts a scene familiar to all Winnipeggers. The goal of this initiative is to spread the positive message of recycling, while deterring graffiti and tagging in the area," said MMSM executive director Karen Melnychuk.


She noted the project is very much in keeping with MMSM’s goals. The organization provides municipalities with up to 80% of the net costs of their recycling programs, and provided more than $8.5-million last year.


"Our goal is to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials through our program, and educate the public to make informed choices," Melnychuk said.


"Today is a very important day for us. After nearly two years of planning, and weeks of painting by Charlie, our ‘Simply Recycle’ mural is complete. This is a mural for the community and the newest artistic addition to Winnipeg’s North End."


Johnston, who has completed murals in more than two dozen locations, said the process of painting the mural became difficult as cold weather set in, but that he’s used to working in "adverse conditions," having painted a dozen or so murals in lousy weather.


He said murals such as his help to create a discourse between members of the public and the creators of the work.


"More than anything else, I think they’re about telling a story, they’re about a dialogue," he said.


"It’s this big conversation between the community, the artist and the theme, whoever else chooses to create the mural, like the sponsors. It creates a dialogue between people who might not otherwise have a conversation."


Johnston said "everyone needs to have art in their life," and that for a person walking on the street, witnessing the creation of such murals is an important part of the discourse he feels art helps to create.


"Most people love it, there’s usually someone who has some dislike or issue, but that’s part of the conversation too," he said.


"I think the worst thing you can say about a piece of public art is nothing."

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