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New mural features scenes from bustling downtown of yesteryear

Monique Legault also painted a mural in the same location last year, hopes to collaborate on decorating rest of underpass in 2021 

In 2019, Sudbury artist Monique Legault completed a mural honouring the late Sudbury artist and architect Oryst Sawchuk on the pedestrian underpass linking Elgin Street and Riverside Drive.

The mural, located on the ramp leading off of Elgin Street, features a recreation of 11 of Sawchuk's paintings of downtown Sudbury as it looked in the past interspersed with Legault's own designs.

Working under a City of Greater Sudbury contract, Legault just completed another mural on the other wall of the ramp on the Elgin Street side of the underpass.

This time, she painted rainy, nighttime historic scenes of downtown Sudbury, interspersed with a poem called “A Poem for the Dream Makers” by former Greater Sudbury poet laureate Kim Fahner (we’ve posted the full poem below for your enjoyment).

Legault — whose Elgin Street studio is literally a stone’s throw from the mural’s location (as is the office) — said she used Fahner’s poems because there are lines in the poems that exactly describe the feeling of walking in the rain at night in the downtown.

Legault is paying tribute to downtown Sudbury at a time when there’s a public conversation about the state of the area.

“I would love that one day that the atmosphere that’s painted within that tunnel to be actually here again — the bustling times,” she said.

“As the businesses, we’re all working on it, we’re all working together and decided to do our own initiatives. I’m so excited to be a part of that.”

She said she hopes to work with other local artists and community members to paint the rest of the Elgin-Riverside underpass next year, providing something beautiful for everyone to look at, including the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Legault said she’s in conversation with Copper Cliff artists Wallace and Laura-Leigh Gillard, who have established a community arts group called Live Loud Louder, about possibly collaborating on the project.

The artist, who does murals all over the region, said despite an enforced break during the pandemic lockdown, she’s had a busy season, completing 14 murals. That includes a new mural on Bay Used Books, also in downtown Sudbury.

Because Legault has been so busy, she’s recruited several other local artists to help her, including Evelyn Eekels, who helped her with the underpass mural.

It took the artists a couple of weeks to complete the mural, which was finished Oct. 20.

“I love to paint,” Eekels said. “I’ll paint just about everything, it turns out. Painting walls is a lot of fun, and (Legault is) a great teacher.”

Fahner said she’s honoured to have her poem featured in Legault’s “beautiful mural.” She explained the poem was commissioned by the Sudbury Arts Council in 2017 for what was then known as the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts.

“I'm thrilled to have my poem on the wall of the underpass,” she said in an email.

“It's a great honour and I hope that people are inspired to find their own creative spark when they see Monique's mural and read my poem. 

“In these challenging pandemic days, I turn to the arts in a search of inspiration, light, and hope. It's my hope that others will find respite and healing in the arts and creativity, too...and that maybe the poem and mural can help with that journeying."

A Poem for the Dream Makers

It begins with a passing fancy,
a daydreamed notion:
the rustle of a backyard wind chime,
a train on the tracks down by Ramsey,
someone walking on rain wet pavement
late at night in northern darkness, on Elgin,
or even the sound of a single match
being struck, sudden and without warning.
Spark: caught up in itself,
swirling new worlds into being,
spinning madly into flame—
rising, falling, surging again
so that fancy becomes solid,
and notion submits, sacrifices itself
and becomes form and then substance,
dressing in brightly coloured robes and scarves,
a fortune teller at a carnival, elusive
and sometimes petulant, throwing fits
and shaking its head, stubborn.
Flame: billowing and obvious,
fed by breath of muse,
an ashy ember floating up
and feathering itself
on a current of air,
mystical, frustrating, beloved.
Embody: sculpt yourself into the art,
weave music into memory,
fashion stanzas and spiral words,
pull paint across canvases
with a brush that fashions image,
cinematic in its scope, standing
on a vast stage that echoes with a voice
which speaks of something grand,
bright, and full of kindled promise.