Art Walk Vaughan
July 19, 2021
A former Walmart store in the City of Vaughan, Ontario is said to be one of Canada’s largest outdoor mural projects. The Walmart art wraps around every wall on the exterior of the building covering 30,000 square feet. Four internationally recognized muralists were each provided a side of the building to exhibit their wondrous panoramas.
I explained to a passerby, curious about the murals, “This is going to be the site for 6 more condominiums and retail spaces. In 2 to 3 years this area will be unrecognizable. In the interim, SmartCentres, the owner of this former Walmart store, has chosen to create this giant art piece for free public viewing until it’s demolished.”
Birdo’s surrealist style is largely influenced by the late artist Salvador Dali (1904-1989) with a mix of Swiss style graphic design. Birdo’s work is commonly seen throughout the Greater Toronto Area and he also produces his works at international mural art scenes.
Several of birdo’s brightly coloured blue/green and orange Kingfishers cover the west side of the building. While there I saw parents enjoying a selfie moment with their children beneath the larger-than-life Kingfishers.
Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo displays his work on the south wall. The eyes were watching me and I was compelled to know why. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Ricardo Cavolo by Amadeus.
Better Together on the north wall by Ben Johnston, a Toronto based artist and designer, using custom typography for murals, advertising and public art brings to mind a quote from Helen Keller.
I must say at first glance I didn’t see the statuesque lady pictured above. Maybe it’s because there really isn’t much viewing room here. Due to the construction of a condominium building very close by, a fence only allowed for a long, narrow viewing area preventing me from standing well back from the mural. After walking its full length and piecing it together in my mind, I realized she’s on her side. I flipped my picture 90 degrees to get a better visual image. Jeremy Shantz who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, is a one stop shop for multimedia creations. He has been described as a pop-surrealist, delving into themes differing our perception of reality.
Murals can transform our perspective on what some might call boring and ugly urban spaces around us. As I witnessed people stop, look and express delight in these works, I remembered my Grandmother saying, “a little something goes a long way”. In this case paint being the something.