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Art duo brightens Canmore pedestrian zone with style, colour

Canmore artist part of duo designing Main Street art

CANMORE – Tears rolled down Rachel Rivera’s cheeks as the Canmore-born artist looked over what was laid in front of her.

Rivera and Calgary’s Claire Ouchi, known as the art duo WKNDRS, are the creative minds behind ten massive, colourful grizzly paws that track down Canmore’s pedestrian zone this summer.

“I definitely shed a few tears of gratefulness,” said Rivera. “It feels like it’s coming full circle to be able to create a mural in the Town of Canmore.”

Rivera remembers the day more than 10 years ago when her passion for art sparked. She painted one small line on a black and white mining mural on the old library, which is now artsPlace.

“It wasn’t even straight. It was really crooked,” said Rivera with a laugh.

“I would walk by it to go to Rusticana to get candy and be like ‘I drew that line.’”

Years later, she’s still drawing lines on Canmore property, but it’s much different now.

Ouchi and Rivera came up with the idea of the paw prints because they wanted to pay homage to Canmore by having a “nature and positive vibes within the piece.” They also wanted to be cohesive with the new bear sculpture, Cedar Mueller, in the middle of the pedestrian zone.

“What we always want to evoke ... is this bright, optimistic positive energy and the colour story for this particular piece was inspired by a mix of our WKNDRS vibrant colour, but also the colours of Canmore,” said Rivera

Anyone can help paint with Rivera and Ouchi as the local artist wants to give the same feeling to someone that she got painting her crooked line when she was a kid.

“Now when you walk down the street, you can be like ‘I helped be a part of this’ and I think that’s such a special feeling,” said Rivera.

Ouchi added: “Maybe we can create another Rachel, some kid could come by, and it can change their life and even realize this can be a profession because I think a lot of people don’t believe you can live off being an artist, but you totally can.”

The duo met during their time at the Alberta University of the Arts and since have been spreading their vibe across the globe.

“We decided to take a dive out of the corporate world, and we’ve been doing WKNDRS for five years now,” said Ouchi.

“We took the jump, and it was kind of scary to do, but we believed that we could do it and it’s just been really fun to get to showcase our work all over the world.”

The pair has stamped their signature style with brands like Spy Optics, Hershel, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Arc’teryx, among others.

“Not only are you surrounded by the art but you're wearing it and you’re feeling it and you’re feeling good,” said Rivera. “That’s overall, what we want when you look at our stuff.”

The WKNDRS name comes from their idea of "why work for the weekend when everyday can feel weekend.”

“The feeling we want to put out there is either Friday night or Saturday brunch time when you have so much time,” said Rivera. “That's the feeling we want every day.”

The Canmore pedestrian zone runs until Thanksgiving Weekend.

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