Local artists encourage downtown visitors to interact with murals

Photo by Glenda Goertzen. Artist Colby Lavigne (left) and Rhonda Trusty (right) unveil Lavigne’s mural as part of a Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District public art project. The mural was one of two unveiled on Tuesday.

Glenda Goertzen

Special to the Daily Herald

Visitors to downtown Prince Albert now have an opportunity to photograph themselves reeling in a giant walleye or posing among a collection of Prince Albert-themed images.

On Tuesday, local artists Colby Lavigne and Rebecca Perry unveiled a pair of murals installed in the courtyard of the Gateway Mall.

Photo by Glenda Goertzen.
Artist Rebecca Perry demonstrates how to reel in a trophy walleye.

The interactive design of the murals originated with Rhonda Trusty, executive director for the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District (PADBID), the organization that commissioned the murals. “Anybody can be a part of the piece of artwork,” she said in an interview following the unveiling of the murals. “They can stand in front of it, they can be holding on to the fishing rod. It’s an opportunity for people just to have some fun and for us to add some colour to the downtown.”

Colby Lavigne’s work evolved out of an education in photography, art and decorative lettering such as calligraphy.

Photo by Glenda Goertzen.
Artist Colby Lavigne demonstrates how to pose in front of her interactive mural.

“It’s quite graphic, I think,” she said when discussing the style of her mural. “When I paint I don’t usually do lot of shading or gradients or realism. I usually do a lot of line work.” She added that she pulled elements of her experience with lettering into the work.

It was Lavigne’s previous mural and window work that caught Trusty’s attention when PADBID was looking for local artists. When Trusty asked the artists to do an interactive mural, they discussed Lavigne’s wings.

“The wings I painted on the S2DIO are meant for someone to stand in front of them,” Lavigne said, referring to her recent window work for the S2DIO on 15th Street West. “I was looking online to see different types of murals that had interactive elements and I liked the archway kind. I saw a few that were similar to this so I went with that idea. Then I just started filling it up with as many Prince Albert downtown and Saskatchewan elements as I could think of.”

Lavigne pointed out images Prince Albert residents would be familiar with: the riverbank, the library, the art centres and coffee shops of Central Avenue.

Trusty approached Rebecca Perry to be the second muralist after seeing her work at On the Avenue Artisan’s Gallery.

“(I) was just amazed at her choice of colour and her interpretation of the animals and the fish that she works with.”

Perry is a biologist who teaches Science Fisheries and Biology at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. This project gave her an opportunity to combine two of her passions.

“It’s always very exciting when I get to do a mural for someone but also get to do something fishy.”

The piece features a fish that is “definitely one of the most beloved species in Saskatchewan. We sometimes call it the pickerel, but the correct name is walleye,” said Perry, settling a longstanding debate among Saskatchewan game fishers. “I thought that was a good species to feature, but we also wanted to make something interactive. The mural features a walleye that is being angled, but the rod doesn’t have a person next to it. It leaves a nice blank space for someone to stand behind, hold the rod and pretend they’re catching a walleye.”

She hopes the public will appreciate the fun quality of the murals.

“It’s a really good draw to the businesses in this area, to have this public piece that invites people to come spend time with it. It’s really an opportunity for me as the artist to have created a piece that needs someone to be a part of it to be complete. It’s not complete on its own, so I need you guys to come stand, hold the rod and complete the piece.”

She expressed admiration for the “clean lines and impactful graphics” of Lavigne’s work, as well as that of another Prince Albert artist, Earl McKay, who will be revealing a third mural later this year.

Rhonda Trusty expressed an interest in adding even more local artists and local art to the downtown area.

“Come on out and enjoy the pieces that they’ve put so much work and effort into.” More of the artists’ works can be found on their websites, https://colbylavignesdreams.com/ and https://www.bybeccaperry.com/.