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Artist inspired by spirituality, community

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Paint what you preach? Brian Gasenzer does.


On Thurs., July 12, the 31-year-old Winnipeg artist, along with the West End BIZ, will unveil his new outdoor mural on the side of India Palace in the West End.


"A lot of feedback from the neighbourhood so far has been overwhelming," Gasenzer said last week as he worked on the 20 foot by nine-foot mural at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Simcoe Street.


The mixed media mural is a cultural, political and geographical tour of the iconic people and places of India, from Mahatma Gandhi and the Taj Mahal to the Himalayas and the lotus flower.


"The music the sounds, the food, the sense. I’m very heavily influence by India in my spiritual life," Gasenzer said, noting his affection for meditation and the chakra teachings of Buddhism.
"I owe a lot to spirituality in terms of — and not being biased towards any religions — being one with everything, with all elements.


"That’s been a big help in my development as an artist."


Gasenzer was drawn to India Palace, one of his favourite local haunts, and approached both the West End BIZ and India Palace owner Ashwani Nagpal with his vision for the corner.


"I’ve been eating here for years, and I grew up in the West End so I just wanted to see some nice bright colour here," said Gasenzer, who lives downtown.


Gasenzer, most recognizable for his work on the Buddha mural in Osborne Village, works primarily with aerosol, acrylics and water colours. He believes his aerosol graffiti style works well with the vast and vibrant colour palette he chose to use — from the soft pink aura that surrounds Gandhi, to the golden yellow hues in the Taj Mahal and Himalayas that symbolize strength and courage.


Because of that, Gasenzer said completing the mural is a big step in his development as an artist


"I see this as me taking a big leap into taking a more forceful approach to the city and wanting to attract more attention to the style and gender I’m coming from, which is mix of aerosol with acrylics," he said.


"(The city has) a bit of an issue with aerosol."


Nagpal said the mural brings something new to his restaurant and the West End, and will boost the neighbourhood’s image.


"We did this to add some improvements in our community, to look nice," he said.


There is a lot to learn from Indian culture and history and its leaders, like Gandhi, Nagpal said.


"He brought all people together and was the father of a nation," he said. "He got a country his freedom without violence."


The mural is one of at least three planned for the West End this summer, said Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End BIZ.


The BIZ has about 30 walls in its inventory for potential murals in the community. It also has a file of artists and mural themes it wants to develop for in the area.


"We go through the list of murals we’d like to do, and keep a list to see which artist would be best suited for a particular mural," Cardwell-Hoeppner said.


"We always want to help mentor new and emerging artists. Brian’s new to our list of artists. We’re very excited to have him on board."


With its murals, the BIZ wants to boast the West End diverse range of culture, community, commerce and cuisine.


"We want to make sure we have artwork out there that is intriguing and will draw people to the area," she said.


To see more of Gasenzer’s work, visit www.gorillazen.blogspot.ca.

Facebook.com/TheMetroWPG
Twitter: @metroWPG

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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