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COMMUNITY: Bridgeland-Riverside’s journey along the Bow River

By Jacey Conway, Federation of Calgary Communities

The Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association (BRCA) takes visitors of McDougall Park on a journey along the Bow River through a stunning mural.

The mural was completed last September after many hours of work from Bridgeland artist, Janel Nail. The project first started when Susan Mulholland, member of the Bridgeland-Riverside Beautification Committee, applied for a TD Park People Grant in order to revamp the local park and baseball field.

“We wanted to bring more attention to the area,” said Mulholland.

The only piece of information given to artists who were applying to work on the project was the theme: ‘Connecting back to the Bow.’ What that meant to interested artists was left up to them.

The committee interviewed three artists and eventually selected Nail, and rightfully so, said committee member Deb Lee.

“Janel has put in countless hours, and has shown constant dedication and hard work,” said Lee.

The project was spread over three events, which included a painting night, a priming night, and a launch party. More than 120 Bridgeland-Riverside residents came out to the three events last year and helped paint the mural pieces.

Nail made the painting easy and accessible for everyone by using a paint by numbers formula and limiting each piece of the mural to only three colours. Many of the families who came out signed their initials or name on the pieces they painted.

“They took ownership and made a personal connection with the mural,” Nail said.

Community blown away by artist’s work

Nail blew the community away with her enthusiasm and talent when designing the mural. She used geometric design and a smooth transition of colour to represent the journey of the Bow. The mural starts at the Bow Glacier, continues to the foothills and forests, to the heart of downtown, through the prairies, and finishes at Siksika Nation.

The process took hours of research, design and application, and Nail charted over 350 hours from June to September 2018 in order to complete the project.

“I wanted to tell the story of the Bow in a way that is meaningful and visually pleasing,” said Nail.

A portion of the completed fence mural in Riverside-McDougall Park, designed by Janel Nail. CONTRIBUTED

The BRCA continues to celebrate the mural and ‘Connecting back to the Bow’ through more community events this summer. On June 18, 2019, the community came together for another event sponsored by TD Park People Grants, to paint and add coordinating picnic tables to the park. The painting night also included field games put on by the City of Calgary, as well as a local mobile market, face painting, and a celebratory cake.

The painting night was the first of three events spread over the summer of 2019. The second event was a field day in the park for a local daycare in mid-July and the last event will be the installation of a sign explaining the story of the mural in September.

The BRCA, in collaboration with Nail, look forward to the completion of this year’s projects and are already talking about next year’s plans. In the meantime, they are extremely happy with the mural and picnic tables.

“This place is a little bit more vibrant because of it,” said Nail.

Even little community members pitched in to help with the painting of the mural and picnic tables. CONTRIBUTED