July 24th, 2021

Mural Fest transforming downtown walls

By LAUREN THOMSON Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on July 17, 2021.

The street artist Young Jarus works on his piece for the Medicine Hat Mural Fest behind 616 Entertainment. He has painted in mural festivals all over the world.--NEWS PHOTO LAUREN THOMSON

lthomson@medicinehatnews.com

The Medicine Hat Mural Fest is in its third year and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Jeff Goring, a graffiti and street artist, started the Festival along with Melissa Pearl after he moved to Medicine Hat from the greater Toronto area.

“The main purpose behind Mural Fest is to change some of the walls and make them look beautiful,” Goring explained. “And also to inspire local artists and give them the opportunity to paint on a larger scale.”

This year, three local artists created a YXH mural on the side of the MNP building. Goring said for two out of three of them, it was their first time painting a large mural.

Another mural was painted by two Calgary tattoo artists from Honorbound Tattoo, who have been trying their hand at large-scale painting for a few months.

Goring also works to bring in world renowned street artists.

“This year we have Young Jarus coming in,” Goring said. “He has painted for really big festivals.”

Young Jarus has painted in France, Chile, India, Mexico and Sri Lanka, to name a few. You can find his new Medicine Hat piece behind 616 Entertainment.

Goring loves watching the collaboration that happens between the artists, and hopes it will result in a surge of interest and talent and, “hopefully in a few years Medicine Hat will be pushing out even more incredible artists.”

Goring talked about the transformation of the walls that are worked on.

“You start with a wall that was totally not noticeable at all, that no one would’ve looked at,” said Goring. “Then all of a sudden people are taking pictures of it.”

Pearl remarked, “It’s a cool process where you get to see them start from a blank wall that looks like an impossible canvas and see the amazing things that they do with the spray paint.”

Goring loves the support of businesses in their goal to revitalize downtown.

“It’s cool when you have businesses that see the vision, see the importance of making our downtown a place you want to be. And for us, we want to make sure it’s a benefit to the businesses by drawing people down to the stores and restaurants.”

Mural Fest organizers are grateful for the community support that makes the festival such a success.

“This year we’ve had our largest community support,” said Pearl. “It keeps growing as people see the walls and ask how they can support. We’ve even had more sponsors jump on board.”

Among numerous others, the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association is the main sponsor this year.

“It brings a lot of vibrancy and colour to the neighbourhood,” said Davie James with MHSA. “For us, with skateboarding, we bring a lot of people from out of town every year with Beat the Heat, and Mural Fest does the same thing, it brings artists from all over the world to come network with local artists, so we are kindred spirits in that way.”

Goring says they are looking at creating a map this year with all the murals listed, along with painters’ names and social media accounts, so Hatters can see more work by the same artists.

“It’s always cool to just hear the artists be amazed at the city we have, because a lot of times people don’t think of Medicine Hat as a place they want to go and check out,” said Goring. “It’s cool when people come here and have a chance to see the quality of the murals that we have.”

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