Several months ago I received a visit from a bylaw officer informing me that I must remove some graffiti from the front of the building that houses my flower shop.
I am a small business owner and I informed the officer that
1) I did not own the building – I rent a portion for my shop;
2) the graffiti had been there long before I took possession of the space;
3) it wasn’t really that offensive. The bylaw officer was understanding but firm. A formal complaint had been lodged, and the city had to act on it (meaning, I had to remove the graffiti).
I thought about this for a few days, and felt that certainly a more creative solution could be found. Realistically, I could clean the tiles, but there was nothing to prevent new graffiti from appearing shortly afterward.
I am aware of the youth initiatives on the street and the various programmes offered to youth at risk. And this is where the Mosaic Mural Project took root.
I approached the coordinators of Art Forms with an idea to have the youth group design a mosaic to be mounted on the front of the building to cover the graffiti. I wanted the mosaic to reflect my shop, I would provide the tiles and the supplies, we would find a tradesman to teach them the proper way to handle the tiles and apply them, and hopefully this project could be the first of many.
I received full support from the owners of the building. When I went to Centura Tile on Nebo Road and explained what I was looking for, they donated boxes of old tiles from their sample room. When we asked Neil MacDougall to donate his time and expertise to teach the youth how to handle and grout the tiles, he did not hesitate to say yes. The kids came into my shop to talk to me and to look around – to get a feel for my business. We seemed to be off to an amazing start.
Then they began to plan and layout the design. When I saw the work in progress, I was awestruck. It is not only creative and beautiful – but it reflects my business in a profound way. This group demonstrated not only skill and initiative, but insight as well.
It represents not only the beautification of public space – it represents the talent and potential of a group of young adults that deserves to be broadcast.
- Bevery Zaruk