Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard the following words strung together: “As a break from yetis, I started on amoebas.” No? We hadn’t either—until we met Monica Ila. Her friends and fans, however, have come to expect such sentiments from the protean Calgary artist. Anyone who saw Ila’s recent exhibit at Canmore’s artsPlace, which featured an adorable, life-size abominable snowman named Otzi, will be unfazed to learn that she has since shone her light on festive amoebas. In both cases, the intention of her work is “to bring communities closer together and rediscover the whimsy outside of the routine.”

Ila and her partner, Chris, have lived in Ramsay for many years, all the while feeling somewhat discouraged by their daily view of a dismal, nearby concrete retaining wall. A couple of years ago, Chris casually suggested that the 75-metre-long wall could be painted (hint, hint my artist spouse) but it took until this summer for Ila to bite. “I walked by the wall yet again and finally thought, ‘Wow, it’s super-ugly, we gotta do something.’”

Ila, who works part time as a cartographer for an energy company, drafted a tiny version of her colourful creatures and peddled her idea door-to-door to largely delighted reactions (municipal election campaigners, take note). She then created a crowd-funding campaign and, in four days, raised close to $2,000 for materials.

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To the artist’s surprise, getting official permission to paint the wall was also a fairly smooth process. “I got information from these Public Art 101 talks with the city to find out about how to proceed, and ended up talking to a really reasonable, supportive community liaison who loved the idea of improving the wall.”

After countless hours spent power washing, sketching and painting, Ila and 30 volunteers (plus many neighbours who …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald

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