Ur­ban art com­ing to Lake Wil­cox youth area

Richmond Hill Post - - News -

Ur­ban art duo Sha­lak At­tack and Bruno Smoky have been trot­ting the globe, un­leash­ing their psy­che­delic and so­cially con­scious graf­fiti on un­sus­pect­ing public spa­ces for the past six years. Their jour­ney has taken them to Rich­mond Hill.

Sha­lak and Smoky are team­ing up with land­scape ar­chi­tects at Brook McIl­roy in imag­in­ing a dy­namic, youth-ori­ented area lo­cated in Lake Wil­cox Park. Sha­lak is tak­ing the lead on all things graf­fiti for the pro­ject.

“We don’t of­ten get to col­lab­o­rate with land­scape ar­chi­tects, so it’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing way to ex­plore dif­fer­ent cre­ative ex­pres­sions,” said Sha­lak.

The park will fea­ture a skate park, beach vol­ley­ball court and a net­ted, two-storey-high climb­ing struc­ture for youths be­tween 13 and 19 years old. The $3.8 mil­lion pro­ject has been funded by the Town of Rich­mond Hill. It will of­fi­cially be open to the public in spring 2018.

Sha­lak and Smoky are look­ing to in­cor­po­rate their ur­ban es­thetic not only in their mas­ter graf­fiti mu­rals, which will be fea­tured through­out the park, but also in metal struc­tures that could last 10 to 20 years.

“In­stead of just plunk­ing vis­ual arts pieces, mu­rals into the fu­ture park, it was about how we could cre­ate the vis­ual feel­ing or flow of the whole park,” said Sha­lak, a Toronto na­tive. Graf­fiti’s im­pact lies in its unique abil­ity to reach all types of peo­ple through the use of public space, said Sha­lak.

The duo sat down last win­ter with teenagers in the com­mu­nity and nailed down themes, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and self-dis­cov­ery, to in­cor­po­rate into the park.

“At the end, it will be their park, and it’s im­por­tant that they feel like what’s im­por­tant to them is echoed,” Sha­lak told Post City.

Sha­lak and Smoky’s vivid sur­real imagery is of­ten charged with so­cial com­men­tary or is­sues di­rectly af­fect­ing the com­mu­ni­ties they are in.

The pair’s most re­cent public pro­ject was in Kelowna, B.C., live paint­ing public mu­rals for the Bass Coast Fes­ti­val.

“I hope that they [public art projects] pose ques­tions and not give a con­clu­sion to peo­ple that, ‘This is what should hap­pen,’ but so that peo­ple can think about things for them­selves,” said Sha­lak.

From left: One of the art duo’s past mu­rals; an ex­am­ple of the metal struc­tures Sha­lak will be trans­form­ing; artists Sha­lak and Smoky

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