Artist’s work spreading around town

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Depending on the style used some artist’s work can be said to be a little off the wall. For St. Albert artist Robert Murray the opposite is true. His work is very much on the wall. The muralist completed his latest work of art in Morinville last week, an inspirational and peaceful scenery on the side of the Entheos Wellness Centre / Flower Stop building on 100 Avenue and 104 Street.

Murray, who studied fine arts in the 1970s, spent his early artistic years working as a cartoonist, a discipline through which he published a few books in the Gary Larsen / Farside vein. The transition to murals came about five years ago. “My mother lived in a seniors’ home in Edmonton, Murray said. “She said, ‘We have this white wall. What can you paint for me?’ People began asking who did this work? So it kind of evolved from there to the point where it’s almost becoming a full time venture. There has been a lot of great response.”

The Entheos Wellness Center building is Murray’s latest work in town. He has already done a mural on the side of Rednex and at Coach’s Corner as well as an animal-themed mural for Noah’s Ark Pets and Supplies. While many people have commented on businesses adding a little colour and zip to their storefronts, what is perhaps most impressive is the speed with which Murray can transform concrete block into a work of art. The artist said he was slowed down on the current project by the rain, but under sunny conditions he’d have been able to complete the work in two days. “It’s kind of like riding a bike or playing hockey,” he said of his murals, adding it is easy once one knows the tools, understands the colours, and understands how light and colours work together. He can sometimes paint without looking at the wall he is working on. “You know your hand and where it’s going to go,” Murray said. “You know the colours that you are working with. It just kind of flows from there, basically.”

Murray said he does his murals with a regular outdoor latex acrylic paint and has never had a mural fade. His work has provided a pleasing focus to a number of buildings in the province, often turning drab block walls into landscapes and streetscapes to be enjoyed by passersby.

The Entheos project occurred when he was visiting the dollar store across the road for some marking chalk for the Coach’s Corner project. Seeing the blank wall, he approached building owner Dianne Calverly who arranged for him to paint something fitting her business and her personality. “I came up with a fantasy garden creation here,” Murray said of the east side of the building. “In the back we did more of a mainstream mural with a brook and a stream and the garden going off into paradise. She wanted to beautify the building and reflect a bit of who she is.”

Those looking for more information on who Robert Murray is can visit the artist’s website at mastermuralsbyrobertmurray.com.

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