For about three years, Sheldon Power has wanted to do something with the side of his building on Broadway in downtown Corner Brook.
“When you come into Broadway the side of the building is the first thing you see,” said the owner of Village Music.
Every morning that he’d look at it, Power would wonder what he could do with it.
At one point he considered putting up a sign and selling advertising, and then he started toying with the idea of putting a mural on the building.
His son is a Beatles fan and that inspired him to think of something musical in an “Abbey Road” album cover styled theme, but with a local twist.
“It was one of those things where I knew I wanted to do it,” said Power.
The next step was to find an artist, and the one he asked to bring his vision to life was his former junior high art teacher and longtime artist Lorne Bishop.
“I knew he could do what I had in mind.”
The finished product is now installed on the side of the store and Power is thrilled with it.
“It turned out way, way, way better than I ever imagined.”
And he’s not the only one impressed by it.
“I impressed myself,” said Bishop.
“When Sheldon told me what he wanted, it just seemed like a really good idea to me. But the first time I rounded the hill and came down and saw it on the building I thought, wow.”
It took Bishop about five weeks to complete the project based on Power’s concept to have the album cover as the backdrop for the mural, with the twist of having musicians playing local instruments as they crossed the road.
As soon as Power said that, Bishop thought it would be cool to have Power and some of his friends doing just that.
The mural features Power playing guitar, Leah Vokey Sing playing fiddle, Wade Jones with an ugly stick and Keelan Purchase playing an accordion as they stroll across the iconic crosswalk.
To create the image, Bishop used Adobe Photoshop to combine a photo of the “Abbey Road” cover with ones submitted by each of the musicians.
An artist his whole life, Bishop is used to having his work hang in galleries.
“So, to have it out in public like that is a little different for me. The public attention is a little different for me.”
Putting the mural in place was a community effort, with Keith Manning, manager of The Paint Shop, donating the supplies, the City of Corner Brook sponsoring it and Lloyd Brinson of Awntech Signs providing the installation.
Its purpose goes beyond just dressing up the side of the building.
“The premise behind it was to get more people out,” said Power. “To get more people in the shops, off the computers, shopping.”
He and other business owners on Broadway are always talking about and thinking of ways to get more business down on the street, something that is especially more important as they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Power said the mural is just one way of outside-the-box thinking to get people to come down to check out the mural. Once there, they’ll likely check out the shops.
“That’s the whole goal there.”
Not the only new mural
On the other end of Broadway there’s another new mural, painted by local artist Jane Reagh.
Reagh’s community mural is part of the LAWN (League of Artists of Western Newfoundland) Barrow Project.
Originally it was to be a welcome mural for cruise ship tourists on the overpass at the port, but the Department of Transport said it couldn’t go there. That left Reagh looking for a new spot, which she found on two concrete walls in an open space coming down the hill across from the Valley Mall.
The idea behind her mural was for it to be a community welcome.
“So, when COVID came, instead of being a community-welcomes-tourists mural, it was just a celebration of who we are,” she said.
“It really was a community wall in the sense that people came, they dressed the way they wanted to dress, and they did what they wanted to do and they represented who they wanted to represent.”
The mural depicts, for instance, a guy showing off his tattoos, a woman biking, a member of the clergy and a woman with her dogs.
Through it all, Reagh heard some great stories, like the woman who walked her two little dogs on Country Road for 15 years before she moved into a seniors home, and the pet chickens that had learned tricks, which she painted from a picture.
“That’s part of the fun of painting people, because there is this relationship with the models.”
Reagh said it was nice how people came out and supported what she was doing, whether it was those who came out to be painted or those just passing by.
“It was really a feel-good event for me, just feeling that support from the people of Corner Brook.”