Evoking Emotion Through a Mural at The Legion in Castlegar, BC...
Updated: Jun 26
Royal Canadian Legion - Branch 170 - Castlegar, BC
When I first rolled up to the Legion, Ty was kind of hiding around the corner from the front of the building. He was in the shade, waiting out the baking sun until the wall he was painting was out of direct light. The obvious reason is so that he didn't have to stand there roasting into insanity, but there was also the painting aspect of waiting it out as well. When the sun is directly on the wall in high heat of the summer days, the paint dries much faster, which isn't the best for pliability I would assume.
I said hello quickly. Ty and I have been connected on facecrack for years, but had yet to ever meet in person. (I have a lotta people like that.) As always, it's nice to put a face to a name/internet photo.
In our brief lil' talk, Ty said he'd been doing murals for 20+ years. That's not too bad. I didn't fire too many questions at him, as that's not really my thing, but I did ask him how he finds his jobs. Ty said that he doesn't do too much advertising, that he's been doing it long enough that jobs seem to find him for the most part, and he keeps busy. As soon as he is done this mural, at The Legion in Castlegar, he'll be shipping off down the highway to Trail, BC, to do another mural downtown there.
When Ty was kinda tidying up his paints, before he went to get a drink, some guys rolled by in a big pick-up truck, and yelled to him out their window...
...and extended a thumbs up with an arm out the window as they passed by.
I liked hearing that. I mean, it's not my mural, but I still enjoyed hearing them say that to him. I'm not sure if I enjoyed that for him, or if that was because of what seeing this particular mural of his had immediately started drawing out of me.
Typically, walking past a Legion, I go straight to thoughts of my grandpas. Grandpa Smith (my step-dad's father), who, out of the blue, when I was a little kid, started showing me the scars on his hand as he told me the stories of him taking shrapnel in his hand when he had just popped open the hatch on his tank in World War II. Apparently he didn't talk much about the war, so it kinda surprised my mom when I told her what he had just told me.
(Gramps had two old WWII bayonets that I used to like to play with.)
My Grandpa Lindhorst (my step-mom's dad)... I remember talking with him, also when I was a little kid, and I'm pretty sure what he said about the war was that he refused to kill anyone, so he ended up being a motorcycle medic kinda guy. He bombed around the lines on a motorcycle, bringing supplies and such, I believe.
Those were my step-grandpas. My mom's dad was a big part of Canadian historical heritage. He was involved in designing the first several feet in the front end of the Avro Arrow. The Arrow was that ahead of its time, bad-ass super fighter jet that got scrapped by Prime Minister Diefenbaker.
My whole childhood was wrapped around the Arrow whenever we would visit grandma and grandpa Gordon. You name it...videos, magazines, photos, books, model planes...the Avro Arrow was plastered everywhere in that household.
My other grandpa, my dad's dad, Grandpa Archdekin, I'm not actually sure about him with the military. What is more predominant about him was his time as the mayor of Brampton, Ontario, through the 1970's, until his death in the early 80's.
He got to roll with Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 for Brampton's centennial celebration. I was in my mama's belly for that. The aftermath of my gramps though, is that he has a rec centre, parks, streets/roads, and all sorts of stuff like that named after him. There is even a historical Archdekin family house somewhere in the outskirts of the Brampton area. The last time I saw that, there was so much around it was plowed over and torn down. It was standing on its lonesome, with a little plaque out front, and a big modern building looming nearby.
Don't hold me to this, but I'm pretty sure a couple of my grandmas were also nurses in the war (WWII), and that was quite possibly about how they met my grandpas...the fairy tale movie script kinda stuff.
So, that is what the Legion's have traditionally meant to me. It's a weird thing where a building I have never set foot inside of, and until now, had never really just stood out front of in contemplation, can draw a very intrinsic sense of global, national, and personal family history all funnelled into a moment. Standing here watching Ty finish the last couple hours on this mural has proven that to be the case though.
Gettin' 'er done...
The personal reflection stretched beyond my family though, because as soon as I laid my eyes on the helmet on this mural, my two old friends from high school, Jason and Justin Frye, immediately slammed into my head.
Jason recently re-posted a photo of himself on Juno beach when he was serving overseas. If you know those brothers, you would understand the level of respect they have from a wide reaching source of people. Truly a couple of the good ones. I originally wrote this article about the two of them a few years ago for their birthday because I felt they deserved more than a simple birthday post-y thing on their facebook pages.
I went out for breakfast with Justin when I was back in Ontario in 2015. It was great, or perhaps, more correctly, fascinating, listening to him talk about his days in the military. He was a paratrooper who was forced into retirement because of injuries. It was a devastating notion because he really did love serving in the Canadian military. Justin has a fantastic story about a kid that he befriended while in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 90's, and then reconnecting with him in recent years. You can find an article and interview about his experience, here.
**Random side note: Our waitress brought me malt vinegar instead of syrup for my french toast, and I didn't find out til too late. Like any good friend would do, Justin immediately laughed at me, and only uttered two simple words...
Jason and Justin have both been police officers since they left the military.
True lives of service!
Saying that, I don't want to forget Mark Stephenson either. That'd be a shitty thing to do, because just like the brothers, Mark went into the military as well, and post military, he became a firefighter. Another who has lived a life of service beyond self. I went to high school with him, the same as the Frye boys. Solid guys to have at your back, I'll tell you that!
Justin with Amir Bajramovic in Bosnia and Herzegovina...
L - Jason dipping his dog tags in the English Channel on Juno Beach in Normandy France. June 6, 2003 | R - Mark in 1999
As I'm standing here, a fire department truck just pulled up beside the Legion, and the fireman yelled out his window,
"That looks Awesome!"
So, we're right on cue here...
Between the fireman who rolled up, and the pick-up truck guys, it's nice to see people openly showing gratification for what Ty is doing with this mural that he is painting on the front of The Legion about the fallen heroes of the past.
It seems that I am not the only one who has had emotion drawn out because of Ty's work, because passerby's keep making sure to express their appreciation as well. That's a special thing to have been able to do.
Pretty much right on cue - again - a lady that had just walked past along the sidewalk, going one way, stopped on her way back to give Ty an ice cream. How good is that?! It's nice to see people openly caring.
While Ty was taking his quick lil' num-num ice cream break, I asked him if it can at times get challenging with his face pressed up close against the wall, when he is trying to paint small bits, but to flow with the overall huge painting. He said it can, and that he has to constantly stand back ( in this case, across the street) to look from a distance to try and get it right.
It sure is worth it though, because he brings the heat with the art that he displays. Truly talented for sure, but from what I have just seen from passerby's, and even from what was swirling within my own self, Ty's art definitely does inspire emotion, and draws it out of people...at least with this one of the fallen at The Legion.
That's a good thing.
Checkin' it out from across the street...
The breeze just swept up, and with it, the faint smell of his paints; but rather than think of the smell as paints, in this moment, it felt more like the picture of memories of spectacular people sacrificing everything for those beyond themselves.
Functionally, the mural is really well done. I've quite enjoyed watching him finish the last little touches. He just flows through it so smooth and casual. Most of the time I have been looking at it as a whole, or in big pieces (the helmet), but when I would zoom my eyes into the nitty gritty of it, it's really bad-ass!
What's that notion about true art imitating life?!? Well, Ty freakin' nailed that all the way!! The painting is really something to look at. It's different than most murals because of what it holds and represents. I initially came to write about Ty painting this mural, but now that I'm here, it feels like it has become more about the moment that is encapsulated within reflection because of the mural that he created. It's like the perfect marriage of art and emotion, and that is what Ty's magik touch has drawn out here through the beauty of his vision, and the talent that he brings to put it all into fruition.
Good stuff, Ty! Good stuff indeed!
Royal Canadian Legion - Branch 170
248 Columbia Ave
Phone: (250) 365-7017
Find Ty The Mural Guy (Canadian Murals) online...
Tools of the trade...
Taking a time-lapse video...