Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/3/2016 (2137 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
She’s spent time living in Vancouver, Rotterdam and New York City, but for many years Wanda Koop called West Broadway home.
The internationally renowned artist was recently selected as a recipient of the Governor General’s Award for her work in visual arts.
"I was fortunate as a child to be chosen for 10 Saturday children’s art classes for free," Koop told The Metro. "It was sort of an incredible thing to have an opportunity to go… it changed my life, so I went on to work with children."
Koop has used her skills and knowledge of art to work with children throughout her career, and while living on Spence Street she was inspired by the idea that art could change the neighbourhood for the better.
"Living in West Broadway and seeing what was happening, at one point we were coined ‘murder half-acre,’ so it was a no-brainer for me, a community arts centre," Koop said. "It was something that could really affect an entire community."
She began Art City (616 Broadway) with the help of the community, an organization that’s remained a cornerstone in the neighbourhood for the last 18 years. Koop said that although the area has grown and developed over time, it’s remained the same in a lot of ways.
"What I’ve always loved about it, I’ve always thought of it as an urban ecological area," she said. "It has a microcosm of all aspects of Winnipeg. It’s as if all the neighbourhoods of Winnipeg coalesce in West Broadway and the range of communities using Art City, it’s sort of a wonderful intersection of that."
Koop added that before Art City officially began, the art community spent time in the neighbourhood, trying to beautify it and energize it. A group of artists and residents revamped the clinic house on the corner of Balmoral Street and Broadway with painted boards of plywood to give the appearance of someone living inside.
"One day it looked derelict and the next day, it looked like we cared," Koop said. "So it was these interventions in the community that gave evidence to a kind of creativity, an awakening of a community that was spiraling downwards."
Although Koop now lives in South Point Douglas, she said it’s inspiring to see a tradition of creativity and artistry thrive in the West Broadway areas with new murals and public art.
"I love to see that continuing," she said. "It’s sort of something outside of what we took on as individuals and to see young artists continue with that is very exciting."
Koop will be visiting the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ont. on March 24 to receive the Governor General’s award along with the other recipients, whom she says are, "wonderful. I’m very honoured to be among them."
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro