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Welland's Murals:
16. Tell Me About The Olden Days

About the Mural
Tell Me About The Olden Days by Dan Sawatzky, Chemainus, British Columbia. Painted in 1988, it is now displayed on a free standing wall facing East Main Street (Former HRDC Building), 50' by 20'. Sawatzky's mural illustrates the arrival of immigrants in Welland about 1910 and the story associated with those times. While painting it, the artist encouraged children to participate in his mural and provided them with permanent souvenirs of the experience. The mural is filled with hidden names and initials of the children and people who helped him.

The Artist's Interpretation
"In this mural, I sought to tell the story of a grandfather telling his grandson of what it was like, how they came and of people he met when he arrived as an immigrant to Southern Ontario. Painting outdoors with constant contact with people gives me the opportunity to show the public that the artists are ordinary people too - friendly, hard working, normal people. It is a change for me to travel and see Canada and meet Canadians. I think it helps me the rest of the year when I do studio work. People usually comment how fast I do a mural - but I find they are like a good book - and I find myself putting in a long, long hours because I can't put it down 'til I'm done. Murals are fun!"

Your Virtual Guide's Comments
This is another example of "painterly realism," a substantially accurate rendition but with enough personal touches by the artist to differentiate the work from that of a Robert Bateman or Glen Loates. Multiple perspectives permit the grandson (and us) to experience "the olden days" from several viewpoints that span decades. We get both an overview and detail as well. The detail suggests that, for Grandfather, the memories are vivid. These are the stories of the old man's life and there is gravity in his manner as he passes the traditions to the future generation. He describes the arrival in Welland of what to him were technological marvels as well as tender memories of the friends of his youth.

About the Artist: Dan Sawatzky, Chemainus, British Columbia
Dan has been a professional artist for 26 years and is self-taught. He is well known for his pen and ink drawings and has a way of whimsically fixing images of our heritage in time. Dan's main objective in his art is preserving the everyday, humble objects, which are so much a part of our heritage.

Dan can be justifiably called a "marketing man's dream" and his arrival in Welland provided an extra measure of excitement to attract further attention to the mural project. He has completed more than 20 murals across North America. Dan's experience in Chemainus changed his life. He and his family had intended to use their time there as a kind of working holiday, but in 1984, they decided to move to the town permanently. Dan soon made his mark in his adopted community and opened his own "Showcase Gallery." In 1987, he moved into the international market by taking the opportunity of painting murals in Steubenville, Ohio and Pacific County, Washington - projects inspired by the Chemainus Festival.

His artistic repertoire includes works in egg-tempera and acrylics, and he has also become involved in producing commercial artwork such as logos, book covers and airbrush murals.

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The Welland Murals site is supported by the Black Lantern Experience.