An Edmonton business owner who two months ago began the push to commission a six-storey mural in Old Strathcona back in May says he has reached his fundraising goal.
By late June, thousands of dollars had been raised through crowdfunding to help pay for bringing renowned Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel to Edmonton to work on the project.
Michael Maxxis, who co-owns a trio of eateries in the south Edmonton neighbourhood where the mural will appear (El Cortez, Have Mercy and Holy Roller), said he couldn’t believe it when he finally reached his fundraising goal a few days ago.
“A few weeks ago, it seemed like it was going to be impossible, but here we are,” Maxxis told Global News on Wednesday.
On Saturday, a $5,000 donation from the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market pushed the fundraising goal over the edge.
“[The Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market] called me unexpectedly. The community pulled through and [the mural] is going to happen.”
LISTEN BELOW: Good to goal: Funding boost gives mural green light
San Miguel is flying in to Edmonton on Saturday to begin the project. It’s expected the mural will be completed on July 18.
“Work literally began today,” Maxxis said on Wednesday. “[Local organizers] are up in the boom right now, painting [the wall] to the base colour.”
When Maxxis was working to book San Miguel, he sent him images of Alberta landscapes and wildlife. He says the province’s beauty caught the artist’s eye.
“He’s very busy, very selective of which products he will do. I’ve been working on getting him booked for six or seven months now,” Maxxis said. “He loves Canada as a country.”
Now, Alberta will serve as the mural’s inspiration.
“It’s full of colour. It touches a little on oil, our wild dogs and wild cats, and it’s a symbol of unity and coming together. It represents Alberta in a colourful and abstract way.”
WATCH: Imagine Okuda Mural Project
Maxxis said having the support of the neighbourhood — and Edmonton — is what’s most rewarding about the project.
“To know this is a supportive, progressive-minded city that cares about the art and cares about each other, it makes me appreciate so much that [I am] a part of it,” Maxxis said. “If the next generation is surrounded every day by beautiful works of art, it’s going to stir and inspire our creativity.”
San Miguel’s Old Strathcona artwork may be just the beginning. Plans are in place for any extra money raised for the project to go towards a new piece of artwork.
“We are very close to having another [mural] happen in August. We want to bring another artist in. We are negotiating [between a choice of] three artists, all equally as famous as Okuda.”
El Cortez and Have Mercy are hosting a free party on the July 21 to celebrate the official launch of the mural. The artwork will be open for viewing to the public at any time.
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