Walls all around Winnipeg continually become more striking thanks to dozens of artists, muralists, curators, and the collaborative minds of Synonym Art Consultation.
Synonym has been facilitating and fostering some of the best public art Winnipeg has to offer ever since the much-loved Puppy Love mural by local artists Takashi Iwasaki and Gabrielle Funk went up on the Food Fare at 115 Maryland Street in 2014.
“Synonym is an artists' collective, a curatorial collective, as well as a small business,” said Joy K. Balmana, who joined the Synonym team in 2018. “We work with clients to build their art collection, or to bring murals to their spaces, as well as just putting on – with our key partner Graffiti Art Programming Inc. – Wall-to-Wall, which we work on all year round.”
Synonym was started in 2012 by Creative Directors Chloe Chafe and Andrew Eastman. The team also includes Graphic Designer Trevor Thomas, Dance Curator Maribeth Tabanera, Drag Curator Prairie Sky/Levi Foy, Web Designer and Media Coordinator Calvin Joseph, and Jack-of-all-trades, Kenneth Castillo - who hosts our video below.
And that’s right! A dance curator and drag curator – Synonym is truly that amazing. Simply put, it makes the city a much better place.
Throughout a normal (pre-Covid) year, the collective hosts and stages cool events like drag brunches at the Tallest Poppy, produces videos like Begonia’s “Fear” album trailer, and Red Moon Road’s “Say it Again,” and works with local and international artists to create works here in Winnipeg – be it at an office, in a home or alongside the façade of the building (heck, Synonym has even done whole buildings).
And by facilitating, we mean sourcing the paint, buying the paint, getting the permits, booking the scaffolding, building the scaffolding, getting coffee, offering up their homes to host (oh you get the picture). That means Winnipeggers constantly get to see massive new vibrant, powerful and conversation-starting works throughout the city.
“The whole idea is to make it so easy for the artist to do their work,” said Balmana. “We are a team built around making sure the artist gets to do what they want and what they love, to always make sure the artist's voice is part of the process and the biggest part of the process.”
On top of this, it also helps nurture young artists in the city by working with Graffiti Gallery and artist Pat Lazo who is, in the words of Balmana “the big connector of street artists from around the world,” here in Winnipeg.
The annual culmination of all this is the Wall-to-Wall Mural & Cultural Festival, which started in 2014 and now happens annually every September. Wall-to-Wall combines the creation of these striking murals with live music shows, dance performances, DJ sets, and all-around hip happenings.
Here’s a map so you can go see them all.
This month’s Wall-to-Wall will feature two huge new murals, along with 13 panel murals that will be installed onto buildings. Learn more about the 2021 events at www.walltowallwpg.com