COVID-19: Piney P appears on Avenue Theatre with a message of love

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On Friday, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin posted a photo with Piney P’s latest cameo on her Instagram, noting, “When you’re out on a (socially distanced) stroll in the neighbourhood and come across a sweet message from AJA Louden.

“Thank you health-care workers, and everyone else on the frontlines.”

Irwin later added in a quick interview, “It’s just a couple blocks from my house. I love it. Art is such an important medium and AJA always has a way of sending such a powerful message.”

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Contacted at home about the mural — titled Pandemic P. in its top left corner, — Louden notes, “Nobody asked me to paint this piece, but I’ve been helping organize the periodic redecoration of the building for a year or two, working with local artists including Rast and Jordoh to give the unused building some love. One of my old pieces wasn’t holding up any more so I replaced it with this.”

The gregarious artist is a big fan of 118 Avenue’s vibe. “I’ve been coming into this neighbourhood to visit friends, get my hair cut, or check out Kaleido Festival for years. I love that a building like the Avenue Theatre that has held so much of Edmonton’s history can still play a role as a host to the arts today  — I’m grateful for that.”

Seen from a proper distance, AJA Louden’s Pandemic P mural on Avenue Theatre on 118 Avenue. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

Avenue Theatre first opened in 1934, closed in 1986 and was a performance space and skate park until it shut down again in 2014 — but its outer walls live on. “Big thanks to Arts on the Ave for giving us creative freedom and the opportunity for a voice,” says Louden, who of course already wears a protective mask when he paints.

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