Flowers on the wall: The artist behind the new look of the Ukrainian Co-Op
Published Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:16PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, April 18, 2019 7:03PM CST
The artist known as “Jez” has established his work on one of Regina’s most signature shops: the Ukrainian Co-Op.
“It was all really fun to do but I really enjoyed, like, working with the angles and actually doing like a 3D picture on the wall,” Jez said, showing his favourite piece of the mural: the painting of a photo from the original Ukrainian Co-Op, taken in the 1930s.
“It’s something that I hope draws people in,” Jez said of the mural. “Makes people a little bit happier about the area they live in and can bring a little bit of light in people’s day.”
Nearly the entire exterior of the Ukrainian Co-Op is now covered in a colourful blast of flowers in striking contrast to a black backdrop.
The now-finished design outside is inspired by some of the artwork inside that’s brought in straight from Ukraine.
“I found these eggs and these jewelry boxes, these just little wooden boxes that were painted black with beautiful floral designs all just on the inside of the store and I thought they were really striking, really beautiful,” said Jez. “I decided that would be a really good design so I kind of took my own artistic license with it.”
“I was trying to get a feel for what really said the most Ukrainian thing without being the most Ukrainian thing at the same time,” Jez said. “Something that said, ‘hey, this is who we are, we’ve been here forever’, right like just for the Ukrainian Co-Op but also something that is welcoming to everybody.”
General Manager of the Ukrainian Co-Op Carin Rodgers loves how the mural turned out. She said she especially appreciates the work in the winter when it offers a warm reminder of spring during colder weather.
“When it’s 50 below and the wind’s blowing, we see flowers, we see colour, we see beauty outside our building,” Rodgers said. “The outside of our store now looks like a lot of the things that we bring in from the Ukraine, from Europe.”
Jez told CTV News that despite growing up in the area, he’d never been in the Ukrainian Co-Op prior to his work on the mural – but it wasn’t long after that work began his lunch breaks brought him in for reasons besides the job.
“Being out all day, like just smelling random wafts of their smoker in the back here just made me a little bit mouthwatery,” Jez said.
According to Jez, since the first designs were painted on the woodshed behind the store, the project gradually grew bigger and his artistry grew with it.
“It wasn’t something that I planned on painting a whole building, but it just kind of ended up happening.”