A little over 20 years ago, the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (TNRC) was created to help community development in the City of Thompson. First on the TNRC’s agenda was a mural campaign. At that time, Oswald Sawh was on of the TNRC’s board and Jasyn Lucas was the young artist engaged to paint many of the murals we see today around Thompson. Fast forward to today and Jasyn is now a well-known and well-established artist in Manitoba.
Oswald, now the Executive Director of the TNRC, believes “Murals are a way to not only showcase Northern culture and our environment but helps beautify our City.” This time an area in the downtown core was selected for the TNRC’s beautification project–the parking lot between the Strand Theatre and Prince Furniture. Both business owners were onboard, and they readily accepted the concept drawings presented by the TNRC and Jasyn Lucas. Jasyn is thankful to the TNRC for “returning to the concept of art enhancing our public spaces that helps our overall well-being and quality of life.”
Jaysyn speaks candidly of his experience as he was painting, “The mural’s location in the downtown core really showcased that medicine for others and for me. Many people would stop by and bring me their thoughts, smiles, hugs, prayers, and stories. Some persons were sad, some cried with me, and some of them told me about their addictions and how they wish they could stop drinking so that they could paint. Some brought us food; people brought a little bit of everything from all over and it was great. Some it was stressful too because of the turmoil that happens in our downtown core at times.”
Jasyn gave careful thought to his design choice. The lynx was chosen because of Pisew Falls, pisew means lynx in local Cree language and he says, “I want to paint a lynx because of Pisew Falls, a place I love to visit. Often people showcase the bear, the wolves or the raven, but I think the lynx was really suited because of the falls and how much joy that space and the lynx bring to the area.”
The bear and its style were chosen, in the words of Jasyn, “The bear was great piece that I enjoyed working on and it is certainly suitable to the area. The bear was done in a style on purpose that mimics the legacy of a great friend of mine, Irvin Head, who recently passed on. Irvin Head was an amazing individual and artist in soapstone carving. He was also a grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, and brother to all he met. I remember him saying to find the lines in forms to bring out your art and to discover those stories within the art. I found the lines in his sculptures were so strong and they really held the character of the piece he was working on. When I painted the polar bear, I made sure that those flowing lines mimicked that style that was inspired by Irvin.”
Jasyn also wants to send a big thank you to Nicole Brightnose and Brandon McDonald for their hands on artistic experience with the murals.
It is Jasyn’s hope that the newly painted murals will help to start the discussion and the process of what needs to be done to help beautify and keep clean our downtown core area for everyone’s enjoyment. He reflected on the amount of garbage that he picked up throughout the process and what needs to be done to help maintain our downtown public spaces. Finally, he says, “It’s up to the businesses and the people they serve, for everyone to take ownership of the downtown and help maintain and keep clean the area rather than finger pointing.”
For more information on the TNRC and its mural campaign, please contact their office at 204-677-0760 or visit their website at thompsonnrc.ca.