The next time you spot a colourful scene on a high-rise in the Beltline, or an intricately painted garage door on a residential street in Sunnyside, you can thank Dexter Bruneau for that. Bruneau is the executive director of the Beltline Urban Murals Project and a founder of the Sunnyside Murals Project. In other words, he’s mad about murals.
“In the most simple way possible, [murals] help beautify our cities and help beautify our streets and our buildings and our wall spaces. It makes it a better place to live, a more enjoyable place to be,” Bruneau says. “Further to that, it also helps engage people, because people all of a sudden have a reason to be looking at a wall.”
Bruneau will be the first to say that painting murals isn’t a new phenomenon in Calgary. “It’s a tradition that’s been going on for a long time — specifically painting garage doors to help activate the alley spaces in the neighbourhood — so this is by no means a new or unique thing that I’m doing,” he says. The residents of Sunnyside are especially passionate about this style of art, he says.
But by creating a pipeline of paid artistic opportunities, and connecting muralists to one another, Bruneau believes he can contribute to the longevity of Calgary’s artistic community. “It’s crucial to continue paying artists,” he says. “By paying artists, it helps encourage them to ask for compensation for their time and their effort and their creative work, which, in turn, will help create more opportunities for them and help them work their way into a place where they can have it be a more reliable source of income.”