Alley art blossoms in the neighbourhood of Sunnyside

Across Calgary’s alleyways, hundreds of thousands of garage doors sit blank and boring. It’s a different story in my inner-city neighbourhood of Sunnyside, where they’re considered to be blank canvases.

Stroll Sunnyside’s back lanes and you’ll see more than 20 bright garage door murals, depicting scenes including smiling bike riders, a cross-country skier, neighbourhood dogs and cats, the solar system and even a bathtub. Collectively, they transform monotonous alleyways into a vibrant outdoor art gallery. Let’s go explore.

The first alley art in my neighbourhood appeared about two decades ago, when a teenager who wanted to be a graffiti artist was given a garage door to paint. That mural by Aerosolic led to two other painted garages in the same alley. 

Sunnysider Christie Page loved that original alley art. It made her want to paint her own garage door, but she worried what the neighbours would think. 

Then new neighbours moved in, and a few weeks later, they had a friend paint their garage door.

“She just went and did it, and I thought that was really cool. And so that summer I painted mine,” Page tells me.

Now, in the back lane behind Page’s house, you’ll see black and white mountains beneath a clear blue sky on her neighbour’s garage, and a white bathtub filled to the brim on Page’s garage — a reflection on the June 2013 flood that affected hundreds of Sunnyside homes.

One Sunnyside garage door was turned into a community chalkboard by artist Karen…

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