DIDSBURY – The Zion Youth Group intends to bring an international artist who counts Adidas, Facebook and Major League Soccer among his past clients into Didsbury to design and help the community paint a mural on the playing surface of the town’s basketball court.
Geoff Gouveia’s creations have graced the playing surfaces of soccer pitches and courts in the U.S.
Zion Church youth pastor Spencer Smith said he met Gouveia through an art group.
“I originally asked and said hey, would you be able to just coach us as the youth group and we make the proposal and the do the design ourselves. And he said ‘I would love to come up and kind of lead you guys in this if you would just cover my cost of hosting me and my materials,’” said Smith during a recent presentation to town council.
Next spring or summer, Smith said the church will fly Gouveia in and provide for him while he’s here, including shouldering an estimated $2,000 for paint. The project, led by Gouveia, will take about five days to complete with the help of the community.
“He’d be the head artist and anyone in the community would be able to come, it’s not just reaching out to other artists. But, once he has the layout done, he says anyone can show up with a paintbrush and be a part of it. And that’s why it’s great for community ownership,” said Smith.
He said the mural is expected to last about 10 years and is public art that can help drive tourism and identity.
Because the basketball court located on 20th Avenue, near the museum is owned by the municipality, council’s blessing was needed before the youth group could proceed.
Council agreed, not unanimously, to give its permission for the Zion Youth Group to paint a mural on the basketball court with the design pre-approved by council. Smith said the group is considering a moose design to align with the theme of public art in the area.
Coun. Bill Windsor, who was the only one to vote against the motion, said he was not in favour of bringing in a non-local artist, adding a local artist has done three back alley murals in town voluntarily.
“So I can’t support bringing someone in when we haven’t even talked to our local people. Either we shop local or we don’t. And I think we have to support shop local and we have very accomplished artists right here in our own community. And I would think they’d be slighted if they weren’t at least approached to do this,” said Windsor.
Smith said painting a court is different than painting a wall and that the group would be reaching out to the community at large, not just artists, to get involved.
Coun. John Baswick and Coun. Joyce McCoy both spoke in favour of the project as did deputy mayor Curt Engel.
“I’m really excited about this as well. I think that it’s a great enhancement to a facility. I think bringing in an artist like that and letting them work with the local talent of artists in town I think is an experience that will be really special for them,” Engel said.