FREDERICTON – There has been lots of mural action happening in Saint John. The city has seen three new murals in the past several months, one from Dodo Ose, a special permanent mural from Hula, and another on an Historica-owned property by Uber 5000.
But now a fashion entrepreneur in Fredericton thought it was time his city hopped on the trend.
Jeff Alpaugh, the owner of Jeff Alpaugh Custom, the maker of the ‘World’s most dangerous dress shirt,’ recently hired local artist Joseph Cormier to paint a mural on an empty wall on the store’s shop at 364 Victoria Street.
“We had this wall that was just about as non-descript and industrial looking and about as off-brand as you can get,” says Alpaugh.
The mural features a giant tiger’s head on a colourful background that mimics a California sunset. For Cormier, it was the perfect project.
“I love to paint and have been looking for an opportunity to do some public work for some time. I am also a fan of JAC products and the mindset of being bold, being dangerous, and simply unapologetically you,” Cormier told Huddle. “I have been following them for some time now and when Jeff posted a video calling for artist to submit concepts for the east wall of his store I was rather excited at the prospect.”
But why a tiger?
“I knew I wanted to put something dangerous in the scene, something edgy, with teeth bared, and bright,” said Cormier. “My first thought was I need to capture the energy of these ‘bad cats’ at JAC and just like that it had to be a tiger, arguably the most stylish … dangerous beast.”
For Alpaugh, it was the perfect fit.
“I don’t know why, but somebody early on asked me, ‘what is the spirit animal of JAC?’ Off the cuff, I named a tiger … It’s a tiger because of course a very dangerous animal, but what’s so good about the tiger is that it’s incredibly territorial without seeking to dominate other’s territory,” said Alpaugh.
“Unlike the lion that we picture dominating all of the other creatures of the jungle, the tiger sticks to its own space and doesn’t look to pick fights, but he’s always able to end a fight. I think that’s a very positive and strong state to be in, where you’re not really looking to disturb others, but you’re not really prepared to be walked on either.”
Alpaugh says the reception to the mural has been mixed, but he’s cool with that.
“Some people love it. People are taking their photos by it and posting [them]. The hypercritical comment is a lot of people are like ‘the tiger makes no sense there. It’s just its head. It should be a full tiger,’ he said.
“The layering he used with the tiger is a very different style than the background. For a lot of people, there is a clash there and some people have been hypercritical, but as you know, I prefer things that are sort of gossip-worthy. I would rather them have an opinion of it even if it’s negative rather than them pass by an empty wall. I am enjoying hearing feedback on both sides.”
For Cormier, he hopes his creation signals more street art to come for New Brunswick’s capital.
“Honestly, I hope [for] many many more murals and street art in Fredericton’s future, both business buildings and public sites and infrastructure such as bridge abutments, overpasses and the like,” he said.
“I’d like downtown to feel lively with art all over, just as unique and eclectic as the people who make this place home, we need to show this is our home and invest in it. Our city is beautiful and known for downtown life and walks, I think the addition of street art will inspire more of our active outdoor lifestyle, something I am proud of.”
Alpaugh says he expects to see more street art in Fredericton in the future.
“It’s cool when you go to Halifax, how good it looks because of the art. Saint John seems to be adopting the same thing,” he said. “I think [Fredericton] has been seeing this idea of making a place look cooler and more dynamic and potentially getting artists to do something. I think Fredericton is going to drop a little conservatism and pop a little coolness, so I think it’s an interesting time here.”