A Banksy mural in Calgary?

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Last month, in early January 2014, Global TV did a news story about a potential Banksy mural under the 10th Street LRT bridge.

I was aware of this news story, so on a reasonably nice day about a month ago I decided to go for a walk in the sunshine and view it. I did not see it then, so thought maybe I had forgotten exactly where it was. I found the video online and reviewed it to confirm its location – which you can view here.  I then went back with a camera a couple weeks ago to confirm whether I was blind or not the first time.

The photo at the top is what I saw on the afternoon of February 18th on the same wall that the Banksky mural was at one time located, as reported by Global TV. Below is a screen shot from the Global TV video.


In the news story, there were some opinions which went both ways in the news story. Some said it was a Banksy and others said it was not. I am not even going to speculate whether it was or not.

Either way, it got painted over with a patch of grey paint and part of the large heart and the feet of the person standing are still faintly visible under the grey paint. If it actually was one of Banksy’s works, this would certainly not be the first time other works of his have been painted over, damaged or destroyed as evidenced in this large list.

What is done, is done. It is now water under the bridge. This fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on one’s viewpoint), is the nature of street art and graffiti.

Now (or, more correctly, when this photo was taken) a brand new piece of art had taken up residence on the other side of the same bridge. It is a wheat pasted image. When viewed, it had the appearance as if it probably was a large lithograph. The image itself, possibly is an appropriated image from a gangster (or film noir) movie.

When I found it, there appeared to be no attempts to remove the image. As a result, it must have been recently placed there. It would be curious to know who did this work. I suspect possibly a young artist somehow connected to the Alberta College of Art and Design up the hill, although it is certainly possible that it could be anyone.

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This wheat paste work is an interesting contrast to the Banksy work that was located on the other side of the bridge.

This of course in itself is also rather interesting. This, because of the history of a well-documented and probably one of the most famous Banksy murals at one time located near a tube station in London. It depicted Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta clutching bananas instead of guns from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction movie. It was painted over by London Transport workers in 2007 and was covered by the BBC. The reason given in the BBC story for this action was that “a tough line had to be taken on graffiti because it created an atmosphere of social decay.”

Disregarding the historical narrative of this London mural, and the potential parallels between the two pieces, just having the two Calgary works together would have been a very interesting dialogue. It is unfortunate that both pieces could not have occupied the same wall, at the same time.

  • One work with a sole figure holding a paintbrush looking off to the side at a big colourful heart.
  • The other with a sole figure looking directly at the viewer down the barrel of an old machine gun.

Who IS the real Macoco?

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I unabashedly wear my heart on my sleeve with pride when it comes to opera.  I love it.

There is something about all the entanglements, drama, tragedies, betrayals, music, sets, the languages and how it all comes together that I enjoy.  I must admit there are some performances that I enjoy more than others – but that is to be expected.  I have been looking forward to this first Opera in the Village since last summer when I first heard about it when I was out for a walk with a neighbour.  We happened upon a live operatic performance on the RiverWalk where it was mentioned this new opera festival was planned this summer.  I have been interested since then.

Thursday, a friend from out of town was here on business.  After her meetings, we met up and had drinks on the patio in the sun at Diner Deluxe.  We then went for a walk along the river to attend the evening performance of Arias in the Afternoon in East Village.  While there we heard a well-put together hour-long, narrated collection of works from three separate operas.  It was interesting to see the performance, as many of them I had seen them on Stephen Avenue Mall during a lunch hour earlier this month promoting the Cowtown Opera Company.

Last night (Friday) I was excited to see the movie The Pirate, 1948 starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly which was projected onto the side of the Simmon’s Building after the scheduled Gilbert and Sullivan performance of the Pirates of Penzance had ended. I had never seen the movie before, so was looking forward to it –especially since the music was written by the great American composer of musicals – Cole Porter (who wrote Kiss Me, Kate which was written the same year this movie was produced).

The night before, my friend and I talked to one of the volunteers and they suggested that we should bring a collapsible chair and I am glad that I did.

Like a good opera – this movie had its twists and turns in the plot.

Briefly the plot centred around a trio of people – the village girl, Manuela (played by Judy Garland); the town Mayor, Don Pedro (played by Walter Slezak) whom she is betrothed to marry; and a travelling circus actor, Serafin (played by Gene Kelly).  Manuela had a deep crush on the villainous and infamous pirate “Mack the Black” Macoco.  Both Don Pedro and Serafin at various times throughout the movie, make claims that each of them was the real Macoco.  To find out who is the real Macoco, like a good opera, one must wait to the end to find out.

Tonight the movie will be The Princess Bride, 1987 which has been described as a “classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather)” – based on William Goldman’s novel of the same name.  It stars Peter Falk as the narrator/grandfather; Robin Wright as Buttercup; Cary Elwes as Westley; and Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck.  Like the movie last night there are parallels between the twists and turns of opera; and the central role of literature and the written word.  It should be a beautiful night to sit under the stars and watch a movie.

The performance starts at around 10:45pm, and I would suggest bringing a folding chair if possible, although there is some seating available.

My thanks to Calgary Opera for including this type of programming in the festival.  For a full list of programmes that are available during the remainder of the weekend visit http://www.calgaryopera.com/arghh