Wings raise local spirits

Wings.

They represent an uplifting of mind, body and spirit. 

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They have an aura of mystery and intrigue. They offer a glimpse into the miracle of nature.

Most people would admit to wishing they had wings.

Thanks to local artist Daniel Gomes, we can all have our own set of angel's wings, at least for a moment.

The BX Pub put out the call in August for an artist to create an eight-by-16-foot installation depicting a giant pair of wings for members of the community to stand between and have their photo taken.

The installation was completed on Oct. 6 and already it's a big hit on social media with many people posing with the beautiful wings and sharing their photos.

Gomes was born and raised in Prince George, went to Vancouver for a decade to learn about art, be part of the big-city art scene and did outreach with at-risk youth where he taught aerosol art techniques and how to use the skill in a positive (and legal) way, before returning to live in his hometown.

Gomes said he feels a strong connection to wings and more particularly to owls after having an up-close and personal encounter years ago with a white owl on Christmas Day in his mother's kitchen.

"I paint owls and I paint hundreds of them," Gomes said. "I started painting owls about six years ago when I had a really, really interesting experience with an owl."

As Gomes washed the dishes from Christmas dinner, a fully-grown owl swooped right into the kitchen through the open window and perched between the double sinks.

"People don't often see owls," Gomes said. "They tend to be very mysterious, you know? At first I was very intimidated and scared because they are very powerful beings. At first I was shocked and fearful and then it was very calming. It was almost like a message of assurity and it brought a bit of closure to me that I needed at that time in my life. It was very humbling and calming at the same time. It was one of those things that's hard to describe. It was very empowering."

He got the feeling that everything was going to be OK and that he was on the right path, he added.

"That's when all the dots connected because I do a lot of festivals in the summer time exhibiting my art and traveling around," Gomes said.

Included on the festival circuit is Shambala in Salmo and their logo is the owl, Gomes added.

"So that festival became my number one and I painted a lot of owls," Gomes said. "I became a Shambala regular. It's opened up a lot of avenues for me and owls have become the number one thing that I do that everyone knows me by."

The artwork done at the BX Pub started with a call out on Facebook in August from owner Justin Mousseau. The piece is sponsored by BX Pub, Shire Green Cannabis and BX Liquor store.

Mousseau had seen murals of wings in cities all over the world online and thought bringing the wings to Prince George would be a good idea.

"There's a lot of people impacted by Covid and they might not be as optimistic right now and so I just decided to add something to the city and bring some sunshine to it," Mousseau said. "Having interactive art in the city is one extra positive thing people can do in Prince George."

It was nice being able to work on a positive project, he added, because during the pandemic the pub struggled with the shut down and all the restrictions put in place.

"At the end of the day it was great to put it out there and Sonny did an awesome job and we've had tons of people showing up to take pictures so it's added some love to Prince George," Mousseau said. "We've had lots of positive comments and lots of people have taken pictures so it's exactly what we've been hoping for."

Mousseau and Gomes would like other business owners to do variations on the theme so people can do a wing tour of the city as a sign of hope and unity, bringing the community closer together.

Gomes’s nickname is Sonny and his art tag is Fresco D. Graffito. His Facebook page can be found here

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