Wolastoqey meets graffiti culture at Beaverbrook Art Gallery

A new mural underway at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton combines Wolastoqey culture with elements of graffiti style.

The temporary piece is is being created by Percy Sacobie of Sitansisk First Nation (St. Mary’s) and Noah McDonough, creative director of the Museum of Graffiti in Miami, Florida. 

Sacobie said the mural is inspired by the Wolastoq, or St. John River, which flows behind the gallery.

“We want to pay homage to that and we want to bring some of the elements that are known from the East Coast,” he said. 

“The sunrise because we live in the east where the sun rises. We want to put the iconic Wolastoqey canoe in the mural and also we wanted to put salmon in.”

A man painting a mural
Percy Sacobie met Noah McDonough when they were both students at Fredericton High School. (Prapti Bamaniya/CBC)

Sacobie is a well-known artist who recently completed a massive mural at the Fredericton International Airport, illustrating the creation of the Wolastoq, the St. John River.

McDonough is originally from New York City and is known for his own art work as well as commercial designs for Def Jam and Island Records, including on albums by Ludacris, Willie Nelson and Jay – Z. 

But at one point, he lived in New Brunswick and met Sacobie while they were students at Fredericton High School, and McDonough still has family in the area.

WATCH | Indigenous art meets graffiti art for this temporary mural:

New York meets Wolastoqey in this collaboration between artists

17 minutes ago

Duration 1:24

Featured VideoNew York graffiti artist Noah McDonough is teaming up with childhood friend Percy Sacobie from Sitansisk First Nation in Fredericton to create something special.

So far the duo estimate they’ve spent about 50 hours on the project from conception to its current form.

Sacobie said the work has gone well so far, with the hardest part, starting the piece, now out of the way.

“That would be my least favourite part of doing artwork,” said Sacobie. 

“Finishing is the best part.”

A man painting a mural
Noah McDonough says working on this mural with his old friend has given them a chance to rekindle their friendship. (Prapti Bamaniya/CBC)

McDonough said he actually looks forward to starting a new work, but said he has some hang-ups in his process.

“I forgot one of my many pairs of headphones today, so I had to go buy another pair,” said McDonough. 

“If I’m by myself painting, especially with people around, I have to be in the zone.”

Rekindling friendship

While their artistic journeys have sent them in different directions geographically, Sacobie said the best part of painting the mural has been the time he’s gotten to spend with McDonough.

“Painting is painting, but to just sit around and make fun of my friend is always a great time,” said Sacobie.

McDonough agrees.

“I haven’t been painting murals that much in recent years,” said McDonough.

“It’s nice to collaborate with somebody you know. And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun and we’re getting close.”

Their mural will be on display in the café-area of the gallery for a year, then another contemporary New Brunswick artist will create a new piece to replace it.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.