Friday, September 18, 2009

Today was the big day!!Yep...the unveiling of Phase one! EXCITING!!
Needless to say we were a bit uptight to start the day. Normally we have a ton of work to do on the last day before the unveiling but we were strangely efficient this trip and had everything set to go. It was kind of unnerving.
Luckily we found other things to worry about...other murals...other ideas for projects to plan we still managed to create ulcers for ourselves and all felt just right. Not to mention the thought that we would have to make speeches to a packed house in the evening who were all out to celebrate constitution day. Yipes.....
So to take the edge off we thought we would go visit the copper mines. AMAZING!!!! This is the biggest copper mine in the world and they aren't kidding. You can see it from space it is so huge. It looks like a mountain chopped in half and turned into a giant outdoor theatre where only Giants could sit on the seats. To describe the size of the mine is impossible. You gotta see it. So here is some pics. The trucks you see in the distance- their tires are probably 20 feet high. They are literally like moving three story houses with wheels.

I wanted to get a better look so i grabbed the pay per view binocular machine. AWESOME!! ONLY 25 cents!! I think they were 25 cents when I was a kid. Now however I can actually afford to use them so it was sweet!!
HOWEVER...a near tragedy...while I was looking through the of the trucks came over the barricade and I was pinned by one of the giant tires. TERRIFYING!!

Hard to believe that i could survive such a tragedy!! Luckily I was able to just yell to the girl in front of the truck for help while her boyfriend was taking her picture and she was able to reassure me that i would be ok. Thank goodness...wouldn;t want to miss the unveiling.

Even after the trauma of the tire incident I was ready to head off to the unveiling. But first i went and bought a new suit jacket. TRUE STORY...I bought a $200 suit jacket at JC PENNY for $10. The jacket was on sale for $20 but there was a loose button on it so i complained and said I would buy it if the button weren't he said "How does $10 sound??" I said "SOLD!!" I think he felt bad that I had been run over by the tire at the mines.

I love looking at my receipt....regular price $200 on sale for $10 hahahahaha.....nice.
So we went back got dressed and were set for the unveiling. I was totally nervous for this one. Lewis managed to catch me warming up with my speech. Can you see the stressLewis made me even more uncomfortable as he was as nervous as me and I had written a speech. He had not. He practised in the truck on the way there...was not too reassuring...

So the moment was about to arrive. One of our team of 250 artists showed up early. Little Johnny!! He was awesome and so proud.He came early because he wanted to save a front row seat for his entire family. Lewis made him feel like a star! Which of course he was for the night!

Then the moment arrived. We went on stage and made the speeches. It was a pretty touching night. Before we went up- the night was full of emotion as veterans from as far back as WW II and the battle of IWO JIMA were paraded on stage right up to modern day vets. There was even a tribute to a young man who had lost his life recently in IRAQ. It was hard not to feel the families pain. But the room was full of unbelieveable pride. We definitely were caught in the moment.

After a wonderful introduction we made our way up to the stage and said our speeches. I went first and things went well...except for the fact they started the video that lewis had created especially for the unveiling in the middle of my speech so it lost some if its zip... HERE IT IS..

So we finshed our speeches and the curtain came down. There were gasps and the energy of the room swelled. You could feel the pride of the students and even more so of the parents. It was electric!!
Even some special guests showed up to read the constitution in front of the mural....Then God bless America was sung by the choir and the mural was officially baptised into the community. The Students had created a masterpiece!! SOUTH JORDAN CITY SHOULD BE PROUD!!
Then the evening ended and the paparazzi took over. PHOTOS PHOTOS AND PHOTOS!! All the students lined up and each one that was there had their picture taken with us and the mural. WHAT A NIGHT!!! The kids were all so impressed with how they created such an amazing mural together without ever giving up their freedom of creativity. AWESOME!!

So the night ended and we announced the beginning of the mural to unite all the UNITED STATES. In one year we will be back again with a mural full of amazing artwork telling the story of the history of the United States through the eyes of some of the finest artists in the US. EVERY STATE WILL BE REPRESENTED!

Our team mate back home , who is keeping things moving while we are away and holding down the fort- Paul Lavoie- is busy working on our west coast mural leading into the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.I am sure he is looking forward to our return.

Its late and I must get some sleep. My computer keeps crashing and I have to catch a plane home tomorrow to be back around my loved ones. New friends have been made and the mural has a good home. We'll be back to visit our lovely, friendly US neighbors very soon. With an even bigger message of UNITY THROUGH DIVERSITY through art. See more at our website...upward and

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The morning started off with the goal of getting the glued down mural cut so we could put the wall together properly for the unveiling. We began by heading off to Home Depot. We hoped that with some luck they would use their panel saw and help us trim up the mural. We met an incedibly helpful and friendly gentleman by the name of Jesse. He was not only helpful he was very impressed with what we were doing. So without any hesitation he helped us out by trimming the mural. HOME DEPOT should be proud of this guy. Truly showed the true meaning of customer service.
So from here we moved the mural to the big auditorium today and began putting it together for the final display. It is truly a wonderful piece. Hard to believe that such a wonderful mural could be created with students as young as kindergarten. What a great way to launch the big mural.
We spent the morning screwing together the panels and making the mural secure so that it would be safe and impressive. Its much bigger then we imagined. Looks great!! I’ll save the full image for tomorrow after the unveiling.
Then after the set up we were invited to dinner at the home of Lori Edmunds (events director of South Jordan City) and her husband Dean. What a lovely evening and great hospitality. While we waited for dinner the neighbors invited Lewis and I to relax with a little B-Ball. I am proud to say...I successfully defeated Lewis 21-0 in a game of 21. But he had way more style then me as is evident in the photos. I should have told him I practiced shooting hoops with a 10 year old daily in Perth Ontario for three years before we started playing. Oh well...
Tomorrow is the big day!!! Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today we began our first day in South Jordan City assembling phase one of the Freedom mural for the United States. Its been months of preparations and we are finally putting forth the mural created by the students of South Jordan City- an invitation to the nation- whis is leading to the creation of the much bigger mural that will unite all the states into one amazing collaborative.
It has been such a positive experience here in South Jordan City. Today started off bright and early as Lewis and I left the hotel room and the first thing we see is this giant truck which i just happened to catch Lewis running by on the way to the van. Really...we didn;t stage the shot at all- really ...REALLY!!! Pretty prophetic and really was an indication of our mission for the day with the mural.
We reached the building where we were to begin assembling the mural and there awaited the lovely Melva. What a sweetheart Melva was. Although hard of hearing Melva was great to chat with. I felt my questions were much better the second time when I yelled them. She gets up early every morning to cook breakfast for all the seniors in the community. Lucky for me I turned 41 this year so as some people have mentioned- I am now in that senior category and because of that Melva made us the loveliest waffles and eggs to start our day. I had to get a shot of Lewis with Melva. Mmm...I am dreaming of tomorrow’s breakfast with Melva. Did you know waffles are like Mural Mosaic’s ? You can make one square a syrup square, put a butter chuink in another...maybe some jam in another square...yum...
So before we started Lewis needed to burn off some morning energy after breakfast . Melva makes some wicked needless to say- Lewis (all wound up with playful exuberance) found a local family and played tag with their kids while their parents watched oncarefully although they seemed a little stiff and unreceptive to his behavior.
So off we went to build the mural. Panel after panel we slowly glued the mural together. It was exciting as it started to take shape. Lori our host and the community events co-ordinator made a point of stopping by and making sure all was going well. Which it certainly was. Better then we could have expected.
We didn;t finish today but we did get close. At 6 p.m. we were whisked off to a dress rehearsal for the unveiling. YIKES!! This is going to be big!! A large theater, an incredible tribute to the war veterans, constitution day and the eyes of the community upon us. WHOA!!! Did not epxect this. And we also have to make a speech. So...needless to say...we are now trying to figure out just what to say Thursday. So...tomorrow is another early day so we have to turn in early. But in the mean time we will plan what to say for our speech in our dreams and plot what we can make for our net mural mosaic with Melva by maybe combining our waffles together tomorrow!! I hope she doesn’t switch things up and make pancakes....
So- nothing to do with the murals but a great way to end the day- a video song from my niece that helps keeps my sanity...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Phil Alain and His Calgary Stampede Blog With Mural Mosaic Day 2 and 3

The first few days have been rather hectic as we get into our groove. The mural has once again been a highlight thus far as it always seems to be at the venue's that showcase it. The big kick off was on Wednesday night with the VIP gala. We worked all day Tuesday and Wednesday to get things set up and it all went off without a hitch. Throughout the dayon Wednesday the documentary about the mura mosaic's continued to be filmed as Sylvie Peltier from Red Letter Film's lead her crew around filming Lewis and the mural's around Calgary. For some that don't know- The Military museum in Clagry houses the beautiful mural "Heroes" and the Town of Cochran mural "Trust" is only 20 minutes out of Calgary.
We ran into one of our new good friend's Michelle Grant who painted in the mural and also has her artwork featured in the incredible art showcase alongside the mural called "The Western Showcase". This is a stunning exhibition of amazing artwork. Also represented in the Western Showcase from the mural were artists like Denis Weber, Kim Penner, Andrew Kiss and Judie Popplewell. Great talent pool within the mural!
Michelle stopped by the mural at one point to start a heated debate with me over -which is better - the ShamWow dude or the guy that sells toilet seats that have fluorescent lights so you can see your bowl clearly when you get home after a late night of "socializing". I stuck with my ShamWow guy and even threw in a few "Snuggy" blanket references so in the end I felt I was the clear debate winner.
Then on Thursday things officially kicked off in the evening for the general public with the sneak peak event. It was a good start and in the end we realized that a lot of people go to the Stampede. We had a good day and its been a while where all three of us have been able to do the shows together. So it was great to have Lewis along. It was also great that Lewis could partake in all the fun that Paul and I regularly experienced in other cities.Like riding crazy train's with hoards of people after events. Not quite the limo service we always dreamed of. I think Lewis still enjoyed it. Or at least we enjoyed watching Lewis in the Stampede Squeeze. See him in the back of the train holding on for dear life?? If you can Zoom in you'll see him mouthing "Help Me!"More tomorrow...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Phil Alain and His Calgary Stampede Blog With Mural Mosaic Day 1

I am now in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at the Calgary Stampede and am getting set for the first showing of the mural in Canada since September 2008. The mural just arrived from Las Vegas and it was so good to see our baby again. I am sitting at the wonderful apartment style hotel that the Stampede graciously provided for us so we can survive the next 12 days of working 12 hour shifts talking about this world class project. Its a beautiful night as I sit here and type and I am getting excited about putting together the big mural again.

The mural has been featured in the Stampede Media Guide and has been promoted to over 750,000 homes. So we know its going to get some attention here.
Many of the fantastic artists have their personal work in the Western Showcase right near the mural as well so its pretty exciting that we will get to see the artists again too. I forgot my camera so hopefully Paul and Lewis will bring one along so I can post images as we go.

The Calgary Stampede folks have been fantastic!! Donna Andersen has been so excited to bring the mural to the Stampede since we first met her at Spruce Meadows. She was so impressed with what the artists created and has really become a champion for this mural. Reminds me of being in Ohio. Its wonderful when these venues really embrace this incredible collaboration.

I must admit- I am getting excited. The Greatest Outdoor show on Earth is only two days away and we are proud to be featured at it. All the artists should be proud as well. Its going to be a great 10 days. Keep checking here...I'll be posting daily our adventures!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Three hard days and we have reached a checkpoint in the beginning of our biggest mural project to date. UNITING the UNITED STATES! It all begins with the children of one small community...the youth...then we will reach out to the entire country. This is the invitation to the nation.

We sat in 11 classrooms and worked with 270 students to create a united mural from the free minds and fresh insights of kids ranging from 5 years old to 18 years old. The ideas that came forth and were presented from brush to board was truly inspiring. So inspiring that I think already this mural will rate as one of my favorites.

There is a certain beauty in children. There is this freedom that I wish we all would retain in our minds as we age. The youngest participants in the mural hesitated the least when it came to putting forth their ideas. They weren;t worried about what others would think or whether their idea was good enough. They just painted. As did many of them...but as we worked with higher age groups you could see the level of hesitancy increase.

BUT...this was a team project.

Every piece was important for the collaborative but also was the powerful voice of each participant. As we gathered in the classrooms with the students the energy would build. They began to realize that they were going to create an amazing project with their fellow classmates and other schools from around the city. Their fears, if they had any, suddenly became excitement. As we worked with them on their paintings they gained confidence and they realized that they were just as important as the person next to them in the mural. Every piece was important!

The classes ended and we took the paintings back to the hotel. We painted and updated the class lists. Documented all the panels and started piecing the mural together to see where we were at. It was a long day but a good one. A really good one.

From what we saw today and what we experienced while we were doing the classes...I am going to sleep well tonight knowing that something really good is going to happen. Something really special...yes....I can't wait...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The second day in Utah went really well. Just as crazy busy as the first but felt more like routine. We started with junior high class, sandwiched two elementary classes in and then finished with a high school art class. The high school class was a great finish to the day as they really got into their paintings.
Actually all the kids immersed themselves into their paintings.But it was funny when the kindergarten kids heard the lunch bell...suddenly painting was second on their mind and food dominated their thoughts.

We have one more day tomorrow and then back on the plane home.
We are going to hopefully have a chance to go off into the mountains tomorrow evening and see some of the beauty of the Salt Lake region.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Day 2 in Utah and the first day with the students. Pretty intense day. Up at 6:30 a.m. and quick breakfast then off to the first school.
We were a little late but the kids were happy to see us. Lewis right away got the ball rolling and the all were thrilled. Paint was flying and the mural was on its way. We had two hours (well...actually about an hour and a half after set up and clean up) to have the kids paint a panel into the mural. They were pulling it off though and so was Lewis with his great way with the kids.
This is definitely where Lewis shines. He is a master with the kids. I can only watch and be the cheerleader. Well...I guess I bring the kids more paint and joke around with them too. I add my little tips here and there too but truth is Lewis is a buzz saw and its best to just keep them smiling until Lewis gets around to each and everyone of them. Which he does!!

We did four classes today each 2 hours long with a half hour sprint from one school to the next in between. Literally we would run out of the school and drive feverishly to the next school and set up again and get the kids painting asap. We ended at 6 p.m.....with a big sigh.

COOL THING though is that we had FOX news waiting for us in the second class of the day. A very large man by the name Big Budha (apparently seems to be a "morning show legend" on TV around here) was waiting to do an interview. Quickly he realized we were foreigner's when we showed a complete cluelessness as to who he was. Lewis in his charming way of always mixing names up called him Big Baba (meaning Ukrainian Grandma back where we are from ). He certainly didn't look like a Ukrainian women. In fact he looked more like a dangerous James Bond character who would remove his hat and throw it at you and it would slice your head off in an instant...especially if you call him Big Babba instead of Big Budha. It was good for a laugh as he corrected Lewis a couple of times.

Although its a long day it still went pretty smoothly and we have two more of these days to go. and we start earlier tomorrow. So once again...good night from Utah. More tomorrow....

Sunday, May 03, 2009

So we landed today in Salt Lake City Utah. The beginning of one of our biggest mural projects yet. Hard to believe what we are starting here. On Monday we are beginning creating a mural with 11 schools in South Jordan City to lead into the giant mural that will unite all the United States. We will be up at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow and working all day lone with four schools tomorrow as a kick off to the mural.

To create these murals with children as young as 5 years old all the way to high school is incredibly rewarding. The unveiling of the mural is quite breathtaking. Not so much for the actual mural but for how each student feels just how important they truly are to the big picture. Really warms your heart.

Needless to say there is alot going on. On top of all that we are still touring the Horse Gift and we are beginning lining up the artists for the west coast mural KUNAMOKST!

So tonight I will have to get me some sleep as tomorrow its into th fire with students all day long. But what a day it will be!!

Pictures and more writing tomorrow. But sleep first.

Peace ;-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

AHA! So here we go with the murals of Unity!!
I am busy preparing for a very exciting summer. We are feverishly working away preparing for two BIG showing of the HORSE GIFT at the GREATEST OUTDOOR SHOW ON EARTH the Calgary Stampede!! and the Northwest Originals Art Exhibit as part of the Edmonton Alberta Capital EX (formerly Klondike Days).

Yes Alberta gets a double dose of the beautiful world renowned mural!!

We are also in discussion with a new documentary that could be created based on the West coast mural that we are abouto begin.

If you have not ben paying attention - Lewis Lavoie has been busy weekly creating an incredible mural. Its called the KING of KINGS! I will put the link here but if it does not work in my blog just copy and paste it and go to this site. It is very cool and you can watch an amazing mural come to life. The mural will be made up of leaders from around the world since the beginning of time. If you have a suggestion for a leader email it to Lewis through the website.

This is his most recent King in the mural -Go to the link above and check it out and see if you canguess what the big picture is going to be!!

Of course its TAX time right now!!! ARRRGGGGGGGGGHHHH everyone is miserable and stressed. But once we get past this we can all get happy again. I have to get going as lots to do and a sunny day ahead!! Keep on Rockin in the free world :-)