Mural festival honours Montreal artist who collapsed while painting in Windsor

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Friends of a Montreal mural artist rushed to hospital after he collapsed while bringing life to a dreary Windsor wall are praying for his recovery.

James Johnston, better known as Jamie Janx, was standing on a ladder and painting a mural outside a Wyandotte Street West business Thursday when he felt lightheaded, friend Daniel Bombardier told the Star. Johnston stepped off the ladder, called 911, and fainted.

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Paramedics arrived and found him on the ground.

As of Monday morning, Johnston was in hospital recovering from a successful heart procedure, said Bombardier.

Bombardier, a Windsor street artist known globally as Denial, invited Johnston to Windsor to help co-ordinate the Free For All Walls Mural Festival.

“We’re finishing this festival in honour of him because he said, ‘Don’t stop,’” said Bombardier, who organized the local festival.

“He said, ‘I want you guys to finish. Don’t worry about me. There’s nothing you can do. Just do this. Make this art.’

Mural by Grabster
Mural artist Grabster from Miami, Florida works on a wall on Highland Avenue on Friday, October 6, 2023. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Murals by Scraps
A new mural by Michigan artist SCRAPS is seen on McDougall Street in Windsor on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star
Free For All Walls banner
A sign for the Free For All Walls Mural Festival and related Part Art Part Party event is seen outside Windsor Eats on Erie Street on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

The mural festival began on Oct. 3 and saw 66 artists from around the world convene in Windsor to fill 53 spaces around the city with colour.

The festival culminated Saturday with a vibrant public bash called Part Art Part Party at WindsorEats on Erie Street East that included a live art battle, DJs and music, art exhibits, comedians, aerial performances, and more.

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  1. Windsor artist Daniel Bombardier, aka Denial, is shown on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at WindsorEats in the 400 Block of Erie Street. Bombardier, the main organizer of The Free For All Walls Mural Festival, has invited other artists from around the world to participate in the week-long event.

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Bombardier has already begun thinking about next year’s mural festival and said he wants the event’s 2024 instalment to be even bigger.

“Windsor has so many blank canvases,” he said.

“We deserve this just as much as any other city — Windsor doesn’t have the best branding. It’s got a little bit of a negative stigma, especially downtown, because of the problems with homelessness and drugs and different things.

“If we have these kinds of problems, then esthetically our buildings are going to be dilapidated and falling down and not being cared for as much as they should be.

“Part of our ethos of Free For All Walls is to try and make this as big as we can, to actually use an entire city as a canvas.”

Mural by David Creed
Mural artist David Creed from Harrow works on a wall on Highland Avenue on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Daniel Bombardier portrait
Windsor artist Daniel Bombardier, aka Denial, is shown on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at WindsorEast in the 400 block of Erie Street. Bombardier, the main organizer of The Free For All Walls Mural Festival invited artists from around the world to participate in the event. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

As the festival wraps up, Bombardier said he and other artists are praying for Johnston’s recovery.

“It was something he didn’t expect,” Bombardier said. “It kind of puts life into perspective.

“You’ve got to be doing what you love and for the right reasons. Just do it, because you don’t know when your time is up here.”

A complete list of the new mural locations is available at freeforallwalls.com.

tcampbell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/wstarcampbell

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