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Have a walk through Hillhurst Sunnyside, view the garage door art

An art gallery of sorts is popping up in a northwest Calgary community, but on the most unlikely of canvasses.

While a few artistic area residents have taken it upon themselves in the past to exercise their creativity on their garage doors, recently it’s increased in frequency to the point where one Hillhurst Sunnyside resident wants it ensconced in her community.

Stay-at-home mom Christie Page moved to Sunnyside about seven years ago and at that time there were already three garage doors and the rainbow house that had been painted, apparently originally done in the 1990s.

“I really wanted to do it on our house, but was nervous, didn’t know what the neighbours would think… and I didn’t do anything,” Page said.

Then, a nearby house went up for sale, was sold shortly after and within a month of the new people moving in, they had painted their garage door, Page said.

“They didn’t ask anyone, they just went and did it,” Page recalled.

“And I said, ‘yes, these are our kind of people.’”

A week later, her garage door was done.

Another garage door (the dog door) was painted two years later. Then, the nearby Eden Project had people come in and create art on the walls on their property. And, finally Page said a nearby neighbour got a brand new, “shiny” garage door and didn’t want to paint it, but instead had their 13-year-old grandson design a mural for the fence line.

That’s when Page decided she wanted to turn this into something bigger. She toured with the Beltline Urban Mural Project’s Jane’s Walk and connected with a local artist who turned her on to the Calgary Art Directive.

Very shortly after Page was able to connect with other local artists who were willing to paint the garage doors. She said some were looking for up to $3,000 for the garage door work, and others who just wanted the canvas and someone to cover the cost of paint.

“Talking with the artists, they tend to be huge creative people who have brilliant ideas and if you will just let them do their own thing, they aren’t looking to make a ton of money,” Page said.

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Two people have already stepped forward to participate and Page said it’s got the community talking.

Jessica Clark with the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association said the project really sums up the artistic and connected side of the area’s residents.

“A lot of this stuff has been happening organically in the community for years, but it seems to have really picked up momentum recently,” Clark said.

“I think the garage doors just make a lot of sense.”

Clark also pointed out that since the area predominantly has back lane garages, it’s put more eyes on the alleys – which haven’t had the reputation of being friendly spaces.

“It goes a long way, as well, to creating inclusive spaces. For the longest time the alleyway was kind of seen as dark and dingy and a little bit seedy,” she said.

“There’s a lot of organic, connected work happening through revitalizing those garage doors and making those spaces somewhere you do want to go.

“So, it’s creating a neighbourhood watch, almost. People are willing to venture into those spaces and keep an eye on each other.”

Page is hoping to see more people step forward and open up their garage door to a city artist.

“My dream is just to have Sunnyside be an outdoor gallery,” Page said.

“We are already a destination to check out. So why not make it more of a destination to check out?”

For more information on the program contact the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association.