New Calgary BLM mural slated for Chinatown

Location for additional Black Lives Matter mural selected after early summer controversy

Artist Jae Sterling will be behind a new Black Lives Matter mural in Calgary's Chinatown. SCREENSHOT / PINK FLAMINGO ON INSTAGRAM

A new Calgary Black Lives Matter mural has found a home in Chinatown, the group behind the public art project said Tuesday.

In a message posted to Instagram, Pink Flamingo said they’d found a location for a new public mural – a precursor to the planned four mural project – with artist Jae Sterling behind the brush.  

This project is privately funded, the group said.

The initial location to open the series, on the exterior wall of a building on 1 Street and 7 Avenue SE in downtown Calgary, came under intense scrutiny earlier this summer. The plan was to paint over a popular 25-year-old mural, Giving Wings to a Dream, by local artist Doug Driediger.

The ensuing controversy around the proposed location forced organizers to postpone the $120,000 project to 2021 and find a new location. The project was initiated after the city’s public hearings on systemic racism in Calgary.

“We made the difficult decision last month to postpone our publicly funded murals project to 2021 after an onslaught of racist vitriol and threats,” Pink Flamingo posted to Instagram.

“However, we also received an outpouring of support including that of artists and building owners in the city. Thanks to the generosity of some wonderful Calgarians, we are able to proceed this fall with an additional, privately funded mural project that we are extremely proud of.”

The proposal from Sterling, called The Guide & Protector, will be the artist’s vision of Black voices and Black artists in Canada.

“When we saw his work at the debut of his solo art show Riding Horses With White Men, we knew Jae had an incredible talent that needed to be shared with the world,” Pink Flamingo wrote in their post.

“After seeing his proposal for The Guide & Protector, we knew now was the time to press on with a new and separate project that will serve as the perfect precursor to our 2021 murals.”

The exact location of the mural isn’t yet known. Sterling posted via Instagram that work would begin on the new project Wednesday.

“It is a re-imagining and re-telling of several stories while simultaneously moving us to a new future,” Sterling wrote on Instagram.

Pink Flamingo declined a direct interview about the new project.

4 Comments

  1. Does this mean that all the supporters for this BLM mural, also support all the demands made by the Canadian BLM group – I presume this is just one chapter of the main group based out of Toronto (and the States?) https://blacklivesmatter.ca/demands/ and the defund and abolish the police, prisons, CBSA and CSIS, etc?? https://blacklivesmatter.ca/defund-the-police/
    Sorry – I just can’t get behind an organization that calls for the removal of everything that provides peace, law and order in Canada…

  2. I do not support this BLM project
    This is a political organization and their goals are more cancel culture than inclusion culture I do not believe there is systemic racism but I sometimes wonder if there is isn’t a systemic victim culture

  3. I accept history for what they are – faults and all.

    Calgary has an interesting story – the earlier Chinese settlers were laundrymen who arrived after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. When one Chinese man contracted smallpox, the locals burned down the premises he was living in and quarantined the others out of town; and then later smashed the doors and windows of a few Chinese businesses to drive the Chinese out of town. When one race, or race-based group, attempts to eradicate or displace the memory, standing, space or achievements of another race, that is tantamount to racism, IMHO.

    Whether 1892 or 2020 – we can’t revise the history of the former but we can still do something with the latter … this is how you stop racism – in the future and not revisiting the past.

  4. The general public widely condemns racial jeering as being outside the acceptable realm of art criticism. However, this piece is perceived as a gaffe in regards to content/context. Having murals depicting Afrocentric themes being lauded in the public space is not the contention in this instance. Calgary already boasts a number of attractive murals that give a thoughtful head nod to diverse minority groups. This particular artwork does not align with the cultural and aesthetic sensibilities situated in the heart of historic Chinatown. A more suitable location should be chosen, one that does not undermine the legacy this particular ethnic enclave with deep roots.

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