'Modern dimension to a traditional downtown': Mural project shaping St. Thomas' core
ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- St. Thomas' downtown core is getting a facelift thanks to a London, Ont. street artist.
Evond Blake, also known as Mediah, has been commissioned by Railway City Tourism and the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation (STEDC) to paint three murals on Talbot Street.
The first of those three is nearly complete. It's an abstract piece on a 55 foot by 13 foot wall.
"Mural work tends to revitalize landscapes of a city," says Blake. "When artwork comes into a city, you begin to see new shops, coffee shops and walking traffic. Murals have drastic impact on communities that way."
The Donna Evans Bushell Estate gave $250,000 to the Track to the Future Mural Project, and the STEDC used some of it to hire Blake.
"He's done one before here on the boxcars, so there will be four murals he's involved in, in our community," says Sean Dyke, chief executive officer of the STEDC.
"It's neat to have modern dimension to a traditional downtown. Even our heritage committee recognized that (you) can't just focus on the past when you have the whole future to look forward to."
Dyke adds the city already has a rich history of culture and art, and these new creations will help bring attention to some of the other work.
"We are on a corner where I can see three murals where I'm standing," Dyke said from in front of City Hall.
"We have this substantive amount of artwork in community already. Adding this brings more people to community, to check out downtown, shop in stores, eat in restaurants, maybe have a drink at local breweries, drive excitement into the downtown."
With spray paint from Italy in hand, Blake often takes a step back to assess his work.
He's been learning this style of artistry for more than 20 years, and picking up tips from meeting people he says were better than him.
"I've been trying to learn," says Blake. "It's a real acquired skill, but there is nowhere to really learn it."
Judging by the compliments and positive messages he's receiving from passersby, local residents are happy to have him bringing his talent to their city.
"People have been saying 'It looks great,'" says Blake. "Most say they haven't had a lot like this happen before, so they are really excited about the murals."