A local art festival, Medicine Hat Mural Fest.
Medicine Hat Mural Fest started in 2018 when Jeff Goring saw more possibilities for the vandalized brick walls in the city, so he invited artists from across Canada to bring colour and new stories through mural paintings.
The murals now found on every street in Medicine Hat’s Historic Downtown come from local and national artists who’ve painted in France, Mumbai, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, and many other cities and countries around the world.
For the community, this mural festival has become something bigger than paintings on a wall. Local artists have the opportunity to paint beside, learn from, and collaborate with the out-of-town artists who share the same passion and artistic calling, through murals that give visitors and community members hope, inspiration, and a lovely piece of art to admire.
“In life, if you’re interested in large scale paintings, you don’t always have the opportunity to be given a large wall to paint on. To me, this is about showing local artists that they can really do this. Art is an outlet for a lot of people, and it’s a needed outlet,” says Goring. “We always try to add meaningful murals to the downtown. You can change the look and change the atmosphere just by putting up some quality and positive art.”
Because Medicine Hat Mural Fest has grown over the last four years, Goring now meets with eight other mural festival coordinators every two months to celebrate, collaborate, and communicate about what mural fests look like across the country and how the artistic events are continuing to emerge year after year.
“I love it, because we just want artists to know they can do this — we'll give you all the materials. We'll pay you to do it. We'll cover all your food. Just take your time and create,” says Goring.
Not only does the mural fest supply artists with materials and a canvas, the festival also collected donations during the 2021 holidays and put art packages together for children to have.
Goring is a graffiti artist himself that grew up in the Toronto area, and art has always played a huge role in his life. With graffiti usually having the word ‘illegal’ attached to it, he wanted to start a mural fest to allow artists to legally paint murals on buildings, including his son Niko who now has his signature ‘dinos’ painted around the downtown core.
“It’s really great to see where all of these murals pop up. I’ve seen them in photos and commercials, and it means a lot that people are taking the time to go downtown to check them out,” says Goring, who is also known as Sonz1. “It’s cool to see these walls, that otherwise would have never been noticed before, carry a whole new life and meaning.”