Charlie Johnston: "I actually picked the location myself! We were looking
different spots. I didn't want his Mural to wind up on a low-key type of spot.
Hollywood actor! He needs to have a big spotlight and broadcast his image to
community. To me, that wall and that location seemed to be the perfect spot.
two blocks from where he grew up. That's why the signpost in the Mural has from
Ellice to Hollywood and Vine. He had been living on a reservation and he lost
parents in separate accidents only months apart when he was just 2 years old; so
he came to
live on Agnes and Ellice with his uncle Chris who raised him. He did things
like going to the theatre for young people plus he
played baseball for the Orioles. I had some pictures of Adam Beach that his
to us including playing baseball for the Orioles.
That's why the youthful Adam Beach in the Mural is looking up towards his
he's like a memory of the past."
"In one day, I had about 50 different people say something to me while I was
there. Everybody recognized him, knew him or was related to him. So talk about
Mural that ties into the community! It was really powerful in that respect.
person who comes from a hard background and yet, in our society's eyes, has
it. He's an 'A' list aboriginal actor; he succeeded, he's made the big time and
back to his community and lends his time which is now more valuable than ever
speaking to people in children in his previous community about life issues like
abuse and solvent abuse."
"The role that really brought him stardom was 'Squanto: A Warrior's Tale', the
movie. So that's why the image of Squanto has that real marquee style in being
large. It's almost like he is the sky, a red sky. I wanted to have different
portraiture in it. I thought of the different portraits being the elements; I
different things while I was working on them. I didn't make it obvious, but
more of a
subtle thing. There's a figure of him, as himself, leaning against the pole,
almost a totem pole or a signpost. It started off as a braid of feathers behind
in the marquee image; so it passes through those different phases. He has his
a ghostlike bear. He's a member of the bear clan, and his aboriginal name is
Bear Man. There's a bear spirit embracing him, and him embracing the bear
kind of a good symbolism."
"The Windtalker portrait in the lower left corner- that was the movie he co-
starred in with
Nicolas Cage. That was a really good key plum role for him to get. It was a
Hollywood production and he was representing the Navajo tribe of code talkers in
War II. It was the one code that never got cracked, so it's probably one of the
ways that their people aided their country in World War II. The Navajos were
consultants for the movie, so he had to audition not only for the Hollywood
company but also to the Navajos because he's not Navajo. The only reference
had for the Windtalker portrait was from the maquette I did: I watched the movie
freeze-framed it to paint the image from the TV! The wind brings another Earth
It's a soft blue hazy touch, but I downplayed it. I could have made him really
Squanto really like the sky but I didn't overemphasize that. It was more things
thinking about while I was painting it rather than a literal translation to the
"At the other end is the director's chair with Adam Beach's name on it: to sit
look back at the whole experience, and is a convenient way of identifying the
the Mural to its audience. This was a fairly short quick project. I dove right
Sometimes they just flow like that! It was cold though- it went into October
and at one point I was literally shovelling snow off my lift."
Trudy Turner: "When Adam and I speak about the Mural, he's choked and overcome
with emotion. He's such a humble guy. He's a movie star without ego; he's just
a West End kid who happens to live in Hollywood."
Charlie: "How far can a man go? If you were to ask a shaman, he might tell you
that in his dreams a man to travel to the furthest stars in the sky and beyond;
or to parallel worlds with spirit guides and ancestors from other times. I
think that Adam Beach must be a man who dared to dream, for he has traveled far
in his lifetime. With this Mural I hope I have brought him back to his roots by
casting a reflection of his life and work on the community he grew up in. As I
was working at that spot, with the incredible response to the Mural by those who
know Adam, I really got to know his community in a very special way. As I
worked on Adam's portrait through the day, I would see the sun rise over the
wall, cast high noon shadows on the bricks and finally turn the rich colours to
a searing red and twilight before fading to black. And I thought, cool! This