Hey Doreen” mural brings post-war optimism to streets of Lacombe

Artist Larry Hunter mounts the 3D parts of his mural "Hey Doreen" which is now displayed at the corner of 54 Ave. and 45 St. in Lacombe. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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A splash of colour, vibrancy and hopeful optimism now decorates the north end of the Lacombe Liquor Store and HK Mini-mart and Refreshments building at the corner of 54 Ave. and 45 St.

On Friday afternoon, Oliver, B.C. artist Larry Hunter, along with Troy Koppang of Olds, Alta., was in the community, mounting his latest piece entitled “Hey Doreen,” which is a post-Second World War depiction of Nanton Street circa 1949.

While eye-catching murals of historic Lacombe may not be anything new, this one is a little different in the respect no paint was involved.

“This is a first for Lacombe – it’s almost entirely digital,” Hunter said. “If I had to paint it, I’d be here for six weeks – it was too late in the summer for that.

“That was one of the reasons that the (Arts Endowment) Committee chose mine – this is a whole new technique they hadn’t seen before.”

Hunter drew the scene by hand, referencing pictures of Nanton St. to make sure the image was historically accurate, matching colours as best he could. He then scanned it into the computer and coloured it using Photoshop to transform it into a digital file.

The file was then printed on vinyl and mounted to 50 four-foot by eight-foot aluminum panels, which were installed last week. The process took about six weeks total, including three for the creation of the drawing and three for printing. However, installation of the 100-foot long mural took just three days with the combined efforts of Hunter and Koppang.

Artist Larry Hunter and Troy Koppang work on installing Lacombe’s newest mural, “Hey Doreen!” last Friday. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe) Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

It’s also different in that it has a 3D element, with what would’ve been a then-new Chevy truck, popping an inch out of the rest of the mural – a suggestion from the committee.

“It’ll almost look like you’re looking down the street,” he said. “Most of these buildings are all still there.”

While it is an image based on a series of black and white photographs, one of the stipulations Hunter had to follow was making sure the mural was entirely in colour. The printing technique used also allowed for a more vibrant swatch of colours to be used as well.

He also wanted to give it that post-war “modern” look, with a “fun flavour,” and as such it features a cowboy in his brand new truck, waving his hat at Doreen, as well as a group of kids bounding down the sidewalk.

The year 1949 was chosen as a way to give some the older members of Lacombe’s community a connection with the piece.

“We’ve had several people come by and say ‘those kids could’ve been us in 1949,’” he said.

“The story is a vibrant lifestyle. Post-war, things were looking up, people were optimistic… We could use that (optimism) now.”

Larry Hunter is no stranger to Lacombe. He’s also the artist behind the lit-up art features inside the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex, and says he thinks of the city as his second home – and his favourite community in Alberta.

For more information on Larry Hunter, visit www.larryhunterart.com.

-abarrett@postmedia.com

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