The Way of the Sword

Local Artist Denial is Bringing a 
Band of Artists To Windsor To
Re-Imagine The Space Around Us

Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by Michael Pietrangelo

The artists are coming. Windsor’s own Daniel “DENIAL” Bombardier is bringing the first Free For All Walls Mural Festival to the city October 3rd to October 10th. 

Mural Fest’s main event, Part Art Part Party, occurs on Saturday October 7th, starting at 2 pm, going until midnight at Windsor Eats at 400 Erie Street.

Artists from around North America—from as far away as Seattle—and even one from Cuba, will converge on Windsor to create giant works of art on the walls of buildings around the city. Art Alley, just off Maiden Lane in Windsor’s downtown core, will serve as one of the focal points, though murals will be painted on empty walls—with property owners’ full approval—throughout downtown Windsor and on Drouillard Road.

Free For All Walls Mural Festival coordinator and artist Daniel “DENIAL” Bombardier.

“The idea for Mural Fest came from my ongoing project ‘Part Art Part Party’—a series of events I’ve put on for years to raise money to create murals,” DENIAL says. “Mural Fest is partly funded by this, and by local sponsors and donors. The artists we invited are helping by waiving their usual artists’ fee. This is super generous and really special.”

Part Art Part Party events—several each year—have happened in Windsor for the past 13 years.

“By now we’ve commissioned about sixty murals through these events,” DENIAL continues. “I got the idea to bring all the artists we’ve had in the past to one single event: Free For All Walls Mural Fest.” 

As of this writing, 46 of the 60 artists have confirmed their attendance.

“A few Mural Fest murals will be created in Art Alley,” DENIAL says. “There are two that they will be fixing. Three other murals will be painted over—they’ve been there a long time, it’s time for a change. It’s the way of the sword! When you paint in the street, you understand that nothing lasts forever!” 

DENIAL grew up in west Windsor and has created art for more than 20 years. Although he makes his home here in the city, now, DENIAL has lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Whistler—“I visited a friend there, once, and stayed for six years!”—before returning to Windsor and starting a graphic design business with his brother.

How did he become interested in graffiti art?

“I love the challenge,” DENIAL says. “The tallest mural I’ve painted was a hundred-foot train trestle for City of St. Thomas, at Elevated Park, on a decommissioned train bridge. It shows the final scene of the Gary Cooper/Audrey Hepburn movie, Love In the Afternoon, where they’re standing on the train platform.”

DENIAL says that 99 percent of Windsor citizens with whom he’s interacted enjoy the murals on empty building walls around the city. Among the admirers is newly elected Downtown Windsor BIA (DWBIA) chair, Chris MacLeod, one of the property owners of The Hive on Pelissier, a five-story luxury apartment. 

“Chris has been a big supporter of this,” DENIAL says. “I painted their foyer in The Hive and the back of the building. Windsor artist Meaghan Claire Kehoe will be painting The Hive’s north wall during Mural Fest. People can go and watch her work.” 

“DENIAL did a very unique piece of artwork for The Hive,” Chris says. “We created a brick wall in our lobby just for that purpose—to bring the street art inside.” 

Chris goes on to say: “I love the work [DENIAL] is doing, and I think that it enhances our downtown. He’s definitely an asset to the downtown business community.”

The DWBIA showed its support for Mural Fest with $10,000. Chris also says that DENIAL has been asked to create a mural on the Downtown Mission for the DWBIA in a continued effort to beautify the downtown core.

DENIAL agrees that street art not only beautifies urban spaces but spurs economic growth.

“I have seen this happen in Miami, in Brooklyn, in Atlanta,” he says. “It’s amazing—to return to a place where I did a project a few years before and see now that everything is painted and there are businesses, that the place has grown.”

Local sponsors of Mural Fest include Tesonics (main sponsor), the DWBIA (secondary sponsor), Windsor Eats, Visible Graphics, Tandem Engineering, AW4U Realty, Pete’s Pipes, Coach Worx, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Kingsville Brewery, Hytt Films, and Lessor More Properties.

October 3 will see Windsor artists begin their work, opening Mural Fest. The out-of-town artists arrive on October 5th and 6th, building up to the main event on Saturday the 7th at Windsor Eats on Erie Street, which DENIAL says will be a good day to see active painting.

“Windsor Eats is also a main partner,” DENIAL says. “An art show component of ‘Part Art Part Party’ will happen there on October 7th, starting at 2 pm and going until midnight. There will be a live art battle, kind of like MCs, like Eminem, battling, but with art. They each have a panel and, sort of, attack each other visually, making fun of the other artist. It’s all in good fun. That event starts at two. There will be music all day. We have DJs and live performances. We will have sixteen murals being painted. And then we’ll have two panels where members of the public can try spray painting or using markers like the artists around them.” 

DENIAL definitely disproves the cliché that artists are not organized. Putting together Free For All Walls Mural Fest had a lot of moving parts. DENIAL believes it is time an event of this nature came to Windsor.

“Mural Fest is also a great chance for younger artists to learn,” he says. “Many of the artists are pretty ‘naked’ about their processes, meaning they’re willing to share a few of their secrets. Anyone can do art. Everyone is creative. It’s a muscle you have to work out. The more time, more energy, the better you’ll get. It’s my pleasure to put this together—even the hard parts.” 

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