Mandy van Leeuwen: "We were contacted by the West End BIZ about this Mural with
Harry Lehotsky as the subject. We met with Harry and Trudy (Turner, Executive
Director of the West End BIZ) at the Ellice Cafe and chatted about what would go
into the Mural- the various elements. The building renovations was
representative of the Lazarus Project, a branch of the church's ministry,
outreach program, and in fact, Harry's legacy. The renovation scene shown in
the Mural is from a picture of one of the renovation projects. We picked it
because we felt it was a strong image."
Michel St. Hilaire: "There was a lot of neat angles there and it was a very
interesting house with turrets on each side."
Mandy: "The photos we saw didn't have scaffolding on them- we made that up, just
to make it look like it was a work in progress."
Michel: "I guess there are 5 parts to this Mural. The first part is the
quotation- that was important and was personally chosen by Harry. Next the city
of Winnipeg, then his portrait, Ellice Cafe, and the renovation house. The
staircase was a device to divide it, but was itself an important element."
Mandy: "The staircase is a symbol of new directions and moving forward (Ed Note-
AND perhaps to suggest the movement towards a higher plain)."
Michel: "We put three individuals into the staircase. One was a stylized baker,
symbolizing business owners in the West End. Then there is a pregnant lady with
a child, representing motherhood; and then there is a black child with a
basketball, representing youth. We chose the black and red to make a contrast-
we didn't want to use skin tones with the people because it would blend right in
with the background. And it worked out really well with the building to divide
up the elements. It seems to flow better with the angled look."
Mandy: "We had several meetings with Harry. He was a really nice man. He was
very driven, enthusiastic and full of spirit. He were a bit nervous when we
unveiled his portrait to him- that was important because we wanted him to be
totally happy with the way we captured his face."
"He didn't at first really want to have a picture of himself up on a building,
but in the end he decided that this was a good thing to leave people with. We
want people to remember in life that these things are very important. An icon
such as himself has taught lots of people how to contribute certain things to
everyday life. More people are doing that- there's more pay-it-forward going
on. That was the spirit of the project. So once he realized that this was what
was going to happen, he really warmed up to the idea of having his portrait
there. (Ed. Note- It's harder to know or to identify with the subject of a Mural without the
Michel: "That was a great wall. We had good times at the wall; everything came
all together and went pretty smoothly. And we did it pretty fast- everyone
wanted him to see it. The unveiling was on his birthday. The wall itself was
great to work on. We had a beautiful platform lift that went end to end. The
weather was great with no rain at all. Lots of people greeted us and
complimented us as they went by. Lots of local residents came by.
There were tourists stopping by as well! We had one frequent local
visitor and we decided to put him in the Cafe scene. "
Mandy: "We were happy to have the opportunity to do this, and feel that we did the best that we could with it. We
both felt a sense to honour to be the ones asked to do this."
Michel: "And it was done in the time that they wanted it done. The scene at the
bottom is representative of the West End, but the houses are made up, though.
We had a lot of houses around us. And some are broken, and other little things
about them. One of them has graffiti!"
Mandy: "Biking there everyday, we would catch little details of buildings and
exclaim 'yeah we need to put that in there'! Biking in the neighbourhood helped
us give more of a feel for it."
Michel: "Inside the Cafe is every type of person, just as it is in real life,
from businessman, police, and from all economic groups from the well off to the
needy. Great food, nice atmosphere and great prices at the Cafe! One guy is
reading the Sun, as Harry wrote his regular column for the Sun. He wanted that
for sure in there."
Rev. Harry Lehotsky: "The Mural is amazing. I said when we started out that
some of the things that were important to me, were, number one, the Faith
Foundation, the drive for what I've done. There's something that's invisible to
most people, but the driving force for my life, for which the cross at the top
of the scaffolding symbolizes- and that gave me strength when I had no strength
to get from anywhere else, and certainly none from within myself. You see there
one of the fancier buildings we redid on Langside Street. The vision there was
to capture it in various stages of completion. So many volunteer hours went
into that and so many other buildings. It's a theme that can be hugely
appreciated- when you first see something that was lit on fire, was abandoned,
and was in horrible shape- most people said 'just tear it down' and some people
had a vision with us: 'let's not tear it down, let's rebuild it'. And that was
an awesome thing."
"And the vision of the city there in the background! I love the inner city and
all of its people. The Ellice Cafe that you see there has been a huge success in
many ways. It makes the inner city feel like a small town when you walk in that
place. You see people from the neighbourhood, and people from all over the city
will stop in for coffee or a meal and a great deal. It's a very exciting thing
for me. The scariest part of the Mural was to think about some huge mug shot of
me! I said 'please keep it in proportion to the other things that are way more
important and the things that have actually happened and things that have
changed people that we've gotten to know.'"