The iconic geodesic dome is set up at the heart of downtown Sudbury and that can only mean one thing: Up Here is back.
Everyone can agree that the last year was a tough one with the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, the weirdos behind Sudbury’s urban arts and music festival are looking to reignite the fire within the community with a special theme to the murals and lively music.
“This year (the theme is) ‘levo’ which means ‘lift’ in Latin,” Up Here co-founder Christian Pelletier said in an interview with Sudbury.com this week. “But it’s just a general theme that we as an organizing committee used as kind of a guiding post. This year we wanted to do work that would uplift us. That we’d be airy, be celebratory, and would help us collectively breathe a sigh of relief.”
Some of the new murals that people can look forward to this year includes a portrait of Alex Trebek by artist Kevin Ledo and a portrait to symbolize Black representation by artist Kalkidan Assefa (better known as “DRPN Soul”).
BLM Sudbury reached out to DRPN Soul for this special project at the Up Here festival. The mural artist is well known for Black representation in his art work in Ottawa.
“I think visibility and representation are important when we talk about building communities that feel safe and welcoming for people,” the Ottawa artist said while working on his new mural. “There’s gaps in representation especially for people of color and Indigenous folks. So for me I just kind of embrace that as a part of my work.”
DRPN soul is planning to be here in Sudbury for the rest of the week completing his mural on Medina Lane. He hopes to see joy spark in people as they discover a new piece of art to be a part of their daily life.
These murals will be showcased as a part of the mural tour guide by Sarah Blondin. Blondin was an artist for Up Here a few years back, and each year the festival had her coming back. The local artist and education coordinator at the Art Gallery of Sudbury told Sudbury.com that she is excited to “geek out about art” again this year.
“I think it’s important to show what downtown (Sudbury) has,” Blondin said. “I grew up in Sudbury and I didn’t even know we had an art gallery for a really long time. But there are so many local artists in town — there is a big arts community. So to have murals downtown shows that there is this kind of creative community that does exist.”
Both Blondin and Pelletier want to bring out another side of Sudbury to the people who live here.
“We’re a hard rock mining town, we’re a classic rock kind of city,” Pelletier said. But through this event, he wants the community to come together in enjoying eclectic art and music and have their spirits lifted in a different way.
“It’s a festival for folks who are curious, for folks who enjoy being surprised. Who just want to feel like ‘this can happen in Sudbury?’ ” Pelletier said.
This year, all the events are free because the organizers wanted this event to be as accessible to anyone as possible. To find out the lineup for the festival, visit the Up Here website here. They also have an app available for people to find mural locations right on their phone. The app is available for both Android and Apple devices.