Synonym Art Consultation and Wall-to-Wall Winnipeg
Synonym Art Consultation is a curatorial collective based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, committed to providing meaningful employment and mentorship opportunities to artists and to facilitate the celebration of art and culture with unique, inclusive, community-minded events that serve as safer spaces for diverse populations. Through our mural and culture festival, Wall-to-Wall, we strive to cultivate a grassroots contemporary street art movement in our city and to participate in hyperlocal and international dialogues around important issues, such as Indigenous rights and socially-responsible, innovative economic development, rooted in the Arts.
With Wall-to-Wall, this year, our festival is essentially a youth-led initiative, driven by mentorship projects and collaboration. All of our projects will provide skill-building opportunities for artists at all stages of their career; from youth just finding their way into the world of contemporary street art and performance, to established artists, who are ready to paint large-scale murals and perform on a festival main stage. We see Wall-to-Wall 2017 as a launching pad for many of our city’s artists and a way to build a stronger, more diverse community able to contribute to the development of its own positive, vibrant, socially-conscious visual identity.
Over the course of the entire month of September, we will be installing thirteen new contemporary art murals across Winnipeg! Each mural will be activated by exciting community events, designed to highlight the best of our city’s art, culture, and music scenes. It’s a thrilling month that requires all hands on deck, through collaboration, mentorship, public participation, and celebration.
The first portion of Wall-to-Wall will take place on West Broadway, with new works popping up all along Sherbrook St. In West Broadway, we will be hosting visiting artists from across Canada, including Quebecois Ilana Pichon, Jill Stanton from Edmonton, and the Calgary-based artist collective Nasarimba. These colorful new works will be complemented by those of fan-favorite local artists, which will help add to the ever-evolving visual identity of this amazing neighborhood. We will be celebrating the launch of the entire festival at our home base, The Tallest Poppy, on September 1st and finishing painting these murals LIVE at The Sherbrook Street Festival on September 9th.
More than ever, in 2017, Synonym is stepping up its collaborations with other amazing organizations, including The Forks, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Nuit Blanche Winnipeg. In conjunction with The Forks’ summer art programming, we will have Nereo II mentoring Jon Padua to complete the second phase of their Immersive mural in the south underpass. We launched the first piece on Canada Day and are so excited to return on Labour Day to paint, to play music and to hang out under the train bridge. In an unprecedented partnership, Synonym Art Consultation and the Winnipeg Art Gallery are bringing in West Coast artist Jordan Bennett to work with local artist Dee Barsy on a collaborative piece of vibrant public art. This project is organized in conjunction with the WAG’s newest Indigenous exhibition Insurgency/Resurgence, which will be launching September 22nd. We are thrilled to be working with the incredible team at the WAG to coax contemporary art from within their walls, out into the streets, in the form of a new collaborative mural.
Lastly, while Wall-to-Wall has always had strong connections to Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, this year, we have teamed up to create an exciting hub of interactive art works and performances at our Wall-to-Wall finale, on September 30th at the newly dubbed “Marketlands” site at the Public Safety Building. Together, through partnership, we are able to make Winnipeg a more exciting and visually appealing place to visit and to live. Smack dab in the middle of the month, on September 15th, we will be hosting a full, three-storey event at Forth Projects in The Exchange. The night will feature the incomparable Ming Hon, a performance artist, and dancer, launching a new immersive piece in which she transforms the entire lower level of Forth into a hotel, complete with all the amenities and happenings one would expect, as well as several that will surprise you. To complement this new work, we will also be having A live music performance by Marisolle and DJs Super Shonek and Louie Lovebird, taking over the entire building with positive, diverse programming. All are welcome to come meet the many contributors to our festival, including the many visiting and local artists participating this year!
Once we have wrapped our projects in West Broadway and Downtown, we focus all of our remaining energy on The North End. As with last year, Wall-to-Wall will be continuing to contribute to the artistic and economic development of an overlooked part of our city: the Dufferin Industrial area. Building off the two iconic murals that we installed on the Winnipeg Vineyard at Sutherland and Main in 2016, we will be creating three massive murals right next door on Main Street, designed around collaboration and mentorship. We have invited Jason Botkin of the EnMasse collective in Montreal to lead the production of a new work in their signature, high-contrast, black-and-white style. This project allows six local artists to paint alongside an industry veteran and develop their skills in order to take on their own large-scale projects in the future.
Next, to the En Masse mural, we will be creating a multi-wall mural as an outcome of the Wall-to-Wall x Graffiti Art Programming Mentorship Program. All summer long, local mid-career mural artists have been facilitating workshops with youth at Studio 393, developing content for this mural! The handful of mid-career artists will then work under veteran mural artist Pat Lazo to gain the skills required to paint on this enormous scale. Further North, at Main and Jarvis, Kenneth Lavallee will be executing the second edition of The Star Blanket Project, an initiative that commemorates Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and drapes buildings along Main Street in colourful star blanket murals. He will be mentoring and working alongside local community members to amplify the impact this project will have on the neighborhood. In conjunction with this project, local superstar curator Niki Little will be curating a new exhibition at Lantern Gallery in Chinatown, which will explore the act of mark making as a way to investigate the intersecting points of land-based lineage, Indigenous territories, and histories found within our city that has been overlooked. She hopes this exhibition will become a space that is a form of generative process and resistance revealing the nuanced complexity of Indigenous narrative within the civic pride. We will celebrate the closing night of this exhibition on Friday, September 29th with live performances and a curatorial talk. Once the three murals in the North End are completed, our festival reaches its climax with Nuit Blanche. We will be hosting a free, outdoor community event with a huge main stage, a community feast and interactive art programming. This event will reanimate our two main murals from 2016, “Mending,” and “Aqua Lungs” in the parking lot of The Winnipeg Vineyard. With the Red Bull Tour Bus as our main stage, we will be hosting local music heroes Super Duty Tough Work, who will be collaborating with the youth they mentored through the Wall-to-Wall x Graffiti Art Programming Mentorship Program. Our headliner will be DJ Shub, formerly of A Tribe Called Red, performing alongside shawl dancers and break dancers. This event also serves to launch to The Rainbow Trout Nuit Blanche Bike Jam, which will attract a large critical mass of cyclists to The North End. After the Bike Jam has departed, we will meet them at the Marketlands site in The Exchange for the second part of our night, where we will showcase more local artists and performers at the heart of Nuit Blanche. Art, music, and celebration all night, and all month long!