Under GRA for Graffiti

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EPL sends Milner library off with street artists

As an artist known for his rule-breaking tendencies with local collective the Goop of 7, Peter Gegolick certainly appreciated a novel opportunity that presented itself to him last weekend in downtown Edmonton. He, along with many other artists and members of the public, were offered the chance to break one of the first rules they ever learned.

“What’s the first thing your parents don’t want you to do in the house: it’s write on the walls. Then guess what you get to do at the library? You get to go and write on the walls,” he stated. “It’s one of those very few experiences that you get to do in your life.”

As the Stanley A. Milner Library gets ready to close down for extensive renovations, library management thought that there was a ripe moment to let the people establish a more lasting connection with the old, original structure.

They said, “Why don’t you guys make some art on the walls?”

The response was overwhelmingly in the affirmative. Hundreds of artists young and old showed up on an absolutely frigid Saturday to grab some markers and other media to write and paint their wonders on the facility’s interior walls.

Gegolick, 30, jumped at the chance. He already considers his art to be heavily influenced by graffiti and street art. Having a legal venue to practice was “very appetizing” to him.

Besides that, this graffiti will look good on his CV. He’s developed a growing interest in doing more public art projects such as murals.

“With a lot of public art, the situation is that they want you to have experience doing public art, but to get experience you have to get into public art. It’s a little bit of a catch-22,” he explained. “Doing this for free and making my own piece and getting a little bit of experience under my belt was really important for me.”

“I walked in early and said, ‘I want a big space to paint. Can I paint on the windows?’ They went and checked and it was all good. I just went crazy after that.”

His graffiti features a piece of his poetry in which he describes how buildings tell people’s stories and even if the buildings change, those stories stay embedded on the tissues of the structure just as tattoos do.

The message was deeply important to Gegolick to impart. There was another, perhaps more subtle message about art begetting art that his graffiti was meant to offer as well. It already seems to have found receptive ears to it too.

“For me, I want to inspire other people to get into art or just do anything creative. It’s a huge thing for me. That means a lot to me,” he continued. When he stopped by the library again on Monday, he was surprised to find a few comments on the window from people saying that they were inspired by what he painted. He was touched by the response.

“It’s amazing.”

The 50-year-old main branch of the Edmonton Public Library system will close on Dec. 31 for a major upgrade, one that is set to take three years and cost $56 million. It will relocate to Enterprise Square (10212 Jasper Ave.) in the interim before the new facility reopens in 2020.

Gegolick’s graffiti

love|everything|forever
is meant to resemble the stories
that can be found on the walls & structures
made by the generations that preceded them;
embedded with tales of triumph & tragedy
No matter the influence, whether it is intentional
Or simply natural weathering, the expression
Of ideas and lives past can be found
Everywhere. Love ?, in its infinite
form, has been there & will continue on forever through these stories that have been written on our walls.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.