A drab alleyway in downtown Beamsville has been transformed into a visual art experience that will surely become an iconic Lincoln landmark, drawing admirers to the town for years to come.
On Tuesday night, the Beamsville Business Improvement Area (BIA) held a socially-distanced alleyway celebration at Sassafras Coastal Kitchen & Co, located at 4985 King St, Beamsville, to officially reveal the mural that was commissioned as part of Lincoln’s Downtown Bench Beautification Project. The event was attended by town officials, the media, and Dan Kozina, the mural artist.
BIA Chair Dr. Ray D’Archi said the association members were astounded by how residents, merchants, and the town, came together on the project. “Curiosity and excitement during this project grew as Dan began to reveal his vision for the alleyway. Interested onlookers and a growing number of followers or groupies soon began to frequent the alleyway” as the artist worked, said D’Archi.
The visitors inspired Kozina to involve the public in the creation of the mural. “Dan engaged with (the public). He incorporated their ideas into his vision, which has already created community ownership and pride for this project,” said D’Archi.
The coloured handprints that can been found across the design were a spur of the moment addition. “As you walk through the alleyway you will see handprints in the art. These are handprints of community members,” said D’Archi.
Beamsville’s new mural encapsulates many elements that define the town of Lincoln. It pays homage to agriculture in the area. Images of farmlands, baskets of strawberries, and climbing vines with flowers have been incorporated into the design.
The mural also acknowledges that the region is well known for it’s wineries and craft beverage industry with bunches of grapes, wine glasses, and frosty mugs of beer woven into the art.
As well, it features important historical images that relate to the region, and built-in photo opportunities so passers-by can stop and pose next to wall.
Kozina used a vibrant color palette comprised of over 70 cans of paint. “It was a dark dreary alleyway and I wanted to make it really colorful,” Kozina said.
He was inspired to also incorporate many aspects of the natural world into his design. Visitors to the mural will see horses, insects, and an owl painted into it. “The different animals, like the owl, are like the guardians that protect the alleyway,” said Kozina. When asked about his favorite aspect of the alleyway, Kozina chose the colorful horse at the entrance.
The official launch of the alleyway was a town defining moment. It was also a celebration for the many community members who contributed. While the first brush stroke was laid in mid-September, the project took many weeks, and many hands to bring it to completion.
Integral contributors to the project were the Town of Lincoln. They were thanked for including the project in the 2020 grant application for the Niagara Region’s Public Realm Investment Grant. Niagara Region was also acknowledged for the funding it provided towards the project.
Many merchants were also pivotal in bringing the beautification plan to fruition. The owners of Sassafras Coastal Kitchen & Bar and the Action Print buildings contributed their exterior walls. Bosma Landscape was brought in to install pavers. Wipe Out Clean applied a protective coating to the art. Then, R.H. Electric installed the strings and tracks of light that illuminate the alleyways and keep it safe at night.
For Kozina this was a career defining moment. While the artist’s other largescale designs can been seen in Welland and Niagara Falls, this is was the first time he’d created a mural of this magnitude.
“Kozina went far beyond what we expected and we thank him for that,” said D’Archi.