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Unique street painting festival brings a new look to Moncton’s downtown

The inaugural Street Painting Festival in downtown Moncton. (CTV/Alana Pickrell) The inaugural Street Painting Festival in downtown Moncton. (CTV/Alana Pickrell)

Bringing together a pop of colour, a line-up of talented artists and the community, the inaugural Street Painting Festival painted quite the picture in Moncton’s downtown this weekend.

Hosted by Downtown Moncton Inc., officials hoped to bring a new perspective to the downtown core this long weekend.

The three day festival was postponed on Saturday due to weather conditions, but the delay didn’t stop artists from both New Brunswick and the United States from doing large scale, 2D and 3D pieces on Canada Street, near the Avenir Centre.

“It’s not a competition so it really is just about appreciating the art and it’s unique, so the magic of chalk art is it’s here today and it’s probably gone tomorrow because we’re expecting some rain, so after we’re done here today people will drive on the pieces, the rain will probably wash some of it away, so it is what it is,” said executive director, Patrick Richard.

“It’s here to enjoy for today.”

By Monday morning many of the artists were putting the final touches on their pieces, with the unveiling expected to happen around noon.

This years theme was the History of Rock & Roll.

Husband and wife duo, Wayne and Cheryl Renshaw, came in from Santa Clara, CA., on Thursday night for the festival.

“My wife’s favourite band of all time is Rush and she said ‘oh, we can’t go to Canada and certainly not East Coast Canada and do a Rock & Roll theme without paying some homage to Rush’,” said Wayne.

“So she’s also a gardener and she decided if we’re going to do an air band then we need to do a garden theme, so we’re calling it brush.”

A masterpiece by husband and wife duo Cheryl and Wayne Renshaw from Santa Clara, California. (CTV/Alana Pickrell) The pair have been creating art together since college and have been doing street art for the last 20 years.

“I’ve got my brother in law playing the electric scooper shovel and our friend, Stuart on the buckets playing the drums, he’s the only musician among us and he was actually playing out the drums as Tom Sawyer was on the radio while we were doing this and Cheryl’s on the electric rake and we just populated it was all the garden things we found in the garden to make up our musical instruments,” he explained.

This weekend’s piece was expected to take about 20 hours, including some adjustments due to the delayed start on Saturday.

However, Wayne says it really isn’t about the final product when they attend festivals like this, it’s about the community.

“Most of the art isn’t rubbing the chalk in, it’s me talking to you, it’s me talking to the people – how did you do that and I’ll tell them. Sometimes I’ll even get a kid down and let him play on it and sometimes I’ll get an adult. I’ve had the mayor of several cities down in my square smudging chalk around,” he said.

Miramichi artist Allie Howe says his piece this weekend was a real conversation starter among visitors.

He decided to create Slash from Guns N’ Roses, paying tribute to the band and their concert from Saturday night in the city.

Artist Allie Howe from Miramichi, New Brunswick finishing up his creation on Monday morning. (CTV/Alana Pickrell)He hopes that his final piece can be an inspiration for others.

“I kind of hope it encourages them, because I know there’s so many closet artists and everybody’s afraid to try it, or tried it and gave it up, but I hope it kind of sparks them to kind of pick it up again and get back in it,” said Howe.

He’s been an artist for over 30 years and fell in love with street art just a few years ago.

“I was a part of the Miramichi one last year and I got to meet so many international artists,” he said.

“The things you learn is just incredible. That’s why I love coming to these, I’m surrounded by some of the world’s best street artists.”

He said he will be at both the Sackville and Shediac festivals coming up.

While it was the main artists that helped draw in the crowd, the Street Painting Festival had something for everyone to enjoy including a kids chalk zone, music, food trucks and non-food vendors.

“By doing these kind of unique events, I think we get a new crowd, different people coming through and checking out what downtown Moncton has to offer,” said Richard.

Adding, “New Brunswick long weekend, sometimes on the Monday there’s not a whole lot to do, everything’s closed, so this is an opportunity to come down and be apart of the community.”

Artist Joel Yau from San Rafeal, California working on his piece with piercing blue eyes on Monday morning. (CTV/Alana Pickrell) Richard says the free event was designed to help revitalize the downtown. Adding that overall, the weekend was a success.

“I think the feedbacks been incredibly positive,” he said.

“I think it’s brought a lot of people downtown which was our main goal and I would expect something like this next summer.”

Festivities are expected to wrap up around 5 or 6 p.m. on Monday.

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