Kids warm up city streets 'muralizing' Sun boxes

Story courtesy of the Winnipeg Sun,

Two years ago, Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner saw something that caught her eye. The executive director of the West End Biz attended a city-building conference and stumbled into a neighbourhood beautification session called “News boxes need not be noxious” — a seminar on exploring different ways to warm up streets in downtown communities.

So Cardwell-Hoeppner called up Daria Zmiyiwsky, the Winnipeg Sun’s director of community development, and presented her with an idea.

What if they got together with the North West Company, Take Pride Winnipeg and Inner City Youth Alive, and organized a giant art project one weekend?

With 40 Sun newspaper boxes as the canvas.

“We know for a fact that our Sun boxes, as well as other objects in the city, get graffitied and the only way to stop graffiti is to ‘muralize,’ ” said Zmiyiwsky.

Michel Saint Hilaire, a mural artist who works for West End Biz, oversaw the painting Saturday. He gave the children one guideline — that the theme had to be of a nature slant.

Most of the paintings involved, well … the sun. Prairie landscapes and flowers were also popular art choices for the newspaper boxes.

“It’s better than just the red box,” said Saint Hilaire. “It’s obviously amateur but there’s a touch of childish feeling to it — like an innocence.”

Cardwell-Hoeppner called the initiative a success.

“The kids had a blast,” she said Saturday. “We had one little girl who has not budged for three hours.”

The boxes will be distributed throughout the West End.