When he noticed more and more shoppers flocking to the big box retailers in Corner Brook, Sheldon Power, owner of musical instrument/equipment shop Village Music, decided to try a creative approach to attract more people, and business, back to the downtown core.
In October of 2020, he installed a bright and beautiful mural on the exterior of his building at 88 Broadway. And it’s been helping draw visitors to the area since – something which has been especially welcome as many local businesses have been dealing with pandemic-related challenges. (Click here to see the mural, and more information, in our Explore Art NL public art app.)
“I was like, if I can do something, include music, to draw tourists or whatever just to come around, maybe they might come in to some of the retail shops on Broadway, or at least ask questions about the mural and get to talking,” Power says.
The mural, created by local visual artist (and Power’s former junior high art teacher) Lorne Bishop, is a Newfoundland & Labrador take on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, showing four local musicians traversing the famous crosswalk with their instruments in tow. There’s Keelan Purchase on the accordion at the front, and behind him is Wade Jones (of the group Anchors Aweigh) on the ugly stick and Leah Vokey Sing on the fiddle. Bringing up the rear is Power himself on the guitar (at the suggestion of his wife, Tanya).
“Abbey Road being so iconic, I thought, I’ve got to do something with Abbey Road. I love the Beatles, my son loves the Beatles…I wanted something Newfoundland as well, something traditional,” Power says.
“The people who are in the mural – the instruments that they play are actually the instruments they play in real life. I wanted it to be true to form that way.”
It took Bishop about 40 days, working six days a week, to create the 8 x 12 piece, called “Crosswalk Reel” (Village Music held a contest, asking members of the public to submit names for the mural, and Ian Locke won). He started by getting the featured musicians to submit photos of themselves in the appropriate poses, which he then composited over the album cover, working in Photoshop. He completed his work in a makeshift studio set up in the basement of Village Music, painting the scene on three sheets of plywood (as opposed to painting directly on the brick building).
Bishop considered the project his “opportunity to shine,” he says.
“I don’t get much opportunity to do that sort of thing. I paint at home, I work on my own artwork and stuff. But to actually do a large piece like that…I’m overjoyed with the result,” he adds, giving kudos to Power for the idea and assisting whenever needed.
“I remember the first time I went down the hill, rounded the corner and here’s my painting, you know, right there. I was just so proud. It does a lot, I think, to enliven that part of the street.”
Power agrees. And it’s clear that the mural has captured the attention and appreciation of others as well.
“I’ve seen people take pictures of that mural who I’ve never seen before. I’ve had conversations with hundreds of people now, who just comment on the mural,” Power says, noting that the project was a true community effort that also involved the City of Corner Brook (who sponsored the mural), the local Paint Shop (who donated the art supplies), and Awntech Signs (who installed it).
Power hopes visitors near and far will come by to see mural, take photos, and enjoy Bishop’s beautiful work in person.
“Lorne went down the rabbit hole on this mural…I explained to him how I wanted it. I did not expect him to do that much detail,” Power says.
“I was elated, actually, that he did that much detail, but I certainly didn’t expect it. It’s magnificent.”