Rhys Douglas Farrell Paints the Town Red! And Pink and Blue!

by University District

University District welcomed local street and gallery artist Rhys Douglas Farrell to our community this month to create a collaborative mural that reflects our unique personality and purpose.



The locally acclaimed artist, known for his much loved, joyful public art expressions throughout the city, was challenged to represent the essence of University District. “I was born and raised in Calgary. Been painting since I was very young. I want to acad which is now auarts,” he says. “I received my bachelor of fine arts and have been working day and night since! I work with galleries, coordinators and public art projects in several different countries.”


Here in U/D, Rhys was chosen for his colourful, bold, and fresh view of life!




He is a true Calgary success story who has made his mark in the city with his eye-popping public art projects with Telus Spark, the Beltline Urban Mural Project, City of Calgary and more. Canadian Art Magazine named his first solo show a “Must See!”


Beyond Canada, Rhys’ work is highly collectible and he has worked and studied in Spain, Sicily and Kuala Lumpur.


In U/D, Rhys drew from a long list of words that embrace the essence of University District before landing on Mindful Vibrant. Words like connected, innovative, walkable, sustainable, accessible, healthy and safe, active, educational, diverse, cultural and artistic, multi-generational, urban and gathering place all rang true!


But it was Mindful and Vibrant that spoke to the artist and compelled this piece. Mindful Vibrant, this new installation is an impressive 32 feet long and four feet tall!


It’s bold and sparks positivity through simple colours and these few powerful words — Mindful Vibrant — artfully spelled out on a massive canvas.


What’s more, Rhys wanted to involve the community in its creation. And that is precisely what elevates this art to a whole new level.


University District community members picked up brushes, chose colours and painted themselves right into the University District scene! Dozens of University District residents and visitors joined the artist in August to bring the unique paint-by-numbers style mural to life.


This colourful text mural is based on positivity and change. Using the words MINDFUL and VIBRANT to communicate to the viewer that the world is moving forward, this mural is composed of bright and vibrant shapes. They all connect to create a beautiful message.


“The inspiration behind this project was to illuminate a new area that will be created for the University,” says Rhys. “The concept of this project was to bring positivity and optimism to an open construction area that has paused due to the pandemic conditions. Using the words mindful and vibrant to express the message and scope of this project.”


YOU ARE WELCOME: On the fencing in front of the future Alt Hotel location, you can come by and enjoy the art any time. We’d love to see your smiling shots with the mural on social media! Don’t forget to tag us in them and use #udlife so we can engage!


Speaking of public art! Have you noticed the incredible chalk art by Rozzie Lee outside of the Discovery Centre? It’s interactive and calls for your input. Take a trip to the Discovery Centre and share your thoughts about what you love to do in U/D. So far, it looks like the parks and playgrounds are our most popular attributes! Pick up a stick of chalk in your favourite summery shade and have your say!



“We are excited to see and take part in the Mindful Vibrant mural project,” says University District’s Vice President Community Experience Maureen Henderson.


“This mural matters because art and artists are an important part of life through their expression and creative contributions to our world. We hope his art in our community makes people think about their unique place in our unique space. The artist invited them to step up, participate and help shape our Mindful Vibrant community one brush stroke and colour at a time.”


Using bold colours — red, pink, blues — brings cheery and vibrancy to the two words that instantly make us feel brighter and joyful, proud and appreciative of the community coming to be at University District. This summer, people are re-emerging and interacting with one another in new ways. Enjoying art that gives a smile is more important now than ever.


“We hope it puts a physical and mental spring in the steps of all in University District,” says Maureen. “Further, having us all be a part of its creation, means we can be proud about how we each helped make something extra special in our remarkable community.”

CAST YOUR EYES AHEAD: Rhys’ mural and the colourful Discovery Centre chalk art project by Rozzie Lee are two proud interactive artful projects in University District this summer. But we are not stopping our creative juices there! Stay tuned for more artful news and moves in the near future. We hope you love them! Do you have artful thoughts to share? Post your thoughts on University District on Facebook, @udistrictyyc_ on Instagram or Twitter.

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