A large piece of art on the side of the Union Centre Building connecting 1919 to 2020 is being recognized by a Winnipeg-based art organization.
Overlooking the corner of Broadway and Garry Street, Charlie Johnson's "A Century of Solidarity" is overlooking the street, depicting images of the General Strike and modern-day workers.
"It's really a 'then-and-now' piece: how things were before the strike happened; and what impact the strike had on the contemporary working-class citizens," Johnson says in a press release Tuesday. "Part of what I was feeling was that time isn't real- the past and the present are inextricably intertwined; and how to reflect that sentiment in the artwork itself."
That intertwining has won Johnson the title of Mural of the Year 2020 from The Murals of Winnipeg's 36 judges.
The blend of black and white and colour was a challenge for the artist, saying he "literally used up every can of orange in the city at the time" when he was painting the background.
"The blend itself tells a story of the intense bright orange colour of the labour movement rising up from the greyscale values so associated with the era of the strike, and the hardships which were sucking the colour and vitality of oppressive machinations of the industrial revolution," Johnson says. "A lot of the emphasis was on being visually representative and illustrating inclusivity in the multicultural aspects of the labour workforce in general."
Ten characters ranging from fictional to famous are present in the art. Johnson combines fictional characters like brothers, a character inspired by his mother, and famous Manitoban communicator Marchall McLuhan in the piece while crossing timelines.
"I was at a sort of at a crossroads when two great movements collided. Early in the project, I was on the boom truck working away roughing in the figures on the wall. Right there on Broadway, the Black Lives Matter protest march was happening! So, while working on a Mural about one great demonstration protest in Winnipeg, I was witnessing another great one at the same time! It was pretty cool."
Previous winners of the honour include Folklorama, who won in 2019 for "Folklorama 50."