Up your Alley
When you go down a Winnipeg alley today, you’re sure of a big surprise – courtesy of resident artist Kal Barteski
Article by Justine Gosling
Walking down a back alley in Winniepeg, Manitoba, you wouldn’t expect to see a polar bear, a wolf or a Narwhal even, but be assured that here, they are perfectly safe to approach. These are just a few of the arctic animals painted onto garage doors, fences, and pavement in an otherwise banal back alley by Winnipeg artist Kal Barteski.
After adorning her own garage door with a polar bear, others who share the alley behind their houses began to inquire about getting their own Arctic works of art on their property. Eventually, the project grew to encompass the length of the alleyway in Barteski’s neighbourhood and has become something of an attraction to locals and visitors to the city.
Bringing the once drab and unnoticed alley to life, the paintings have transformed the alleyway into a fun and pleasing spot worthy of a diversion on your route through town. Amongst the rubbish and recycling bins, a larger-than-life snowy owl painted onto a garage stares as you pass by. A heard of caribou depicted onto a fence panel walk alongside you whilst a flock of Puffin just casually hang out on a brick wall. A tusked Walrus appears to pop out from under the ice at ground level, almost as if the observer is standing on the ice with the gigantic marine mammal.
Cyclist glance at the ghostly swimming white belugas and the playful polar bears. There are 41 colourful and intricate paintings in total. The neighbourhood encourages visitors to view the alley as an alternative art gallery, to take photos and to engage with the once neglected space and with the community. The alley is unlit so be sure to time your visit during daylight hours to appreciate this welcoming neighbourly art project.