Equine-themed Le Cadeau du Cheval mural on tour
Created during a 24-hour paint-a-thon with 70 artists creating 252 panels, the result of months of planning and design.
Mural Mosaic artist and children's book illustrator Lewis Lavoie is well-known for pop art performance portraits.
Courtesy NOA Productions
Go here and click on each panel for information on the individual paintings that make up the Le Cadeau du Cheval mural.
He often creates quick, fluid paintings that are auctioned to the highest bidder to raise money for important social causes at charity events across his homeland of Canada.
Lavoie's artistic talent was recognized early on. His school counselors encouraged him to study art, but instead — forgoing art school in 1987 at age 23 — Lavoie and his friend Barry Peterson started a movie-making company called Reel Effects.
"It was a guts-and-vinegar special-effects house," Lavoie says. "This is where I got my schooling."
The two learned by asking questions of larger production studios.Soon the bigger production houses were hiring them, but Lavoie realized that what he really wanted to do was illustration.
He began illustrating children's books, and through his work with children the Mural Mosaic idea was born. Invited to create and design a mural and have children participate in its completion, Lavoie wanted to explore something new.
Digital photo mosaics were becoming all the rage, but as an illustrator and fine artist, Lavoie wondered if he could create that kind of mosaic and still allow the children to paint what was special to them.
So he laid out a design for an image of Jesus Christ and controlled the color, but beyond that let the children paint whatever they wanted — a dragon, a flower, a castle, a dog.
The mosaic pieces ultimately came together to create a clear picture of Jesus. Lavoie knew instantly that he was on to something.
In 1997, he combined his performance painting into the first of three Mural Mosaic portraits: David, Adam, and Mankind.
Lavoie wondered if he could expand the process to involve other artists and enlisted the help of Phil Alain, an arts festival promoter, magazine publisher, and artist.
Alain knew a number of artists and brought them together with Lavoie to create a public art event: a 24-hour paint-a-thon with 70 artists creating 252 panels, the result of months of planning and design.
Panel No. 37, Apple of His Momma's Eye by Lewis Lavoie, is the horse's eye in the mural.
Only Lavoie knew what the mural would ultimately depict once all the panels were assembled: a fiddler. The painting event took place on April 24, 2004, at the West Edmonton Mall ice rink.
In a 10-day event in 2007, Lavoie publicly painted and then assembled a Mural Mosaic on a 16-by-20-foot scaffold. A video of Lavoie at work on the portraits was posted on YouTube, and Lavoie became a hit around the world.
The latest Mural Mosaic, completed in 2008, is Le Cadeau du Cheval — The Horse Gift, a giant mosaic made up of 238 paintings created by 174 equine artists from around the world.
Prominent Western artists who participated in the project include Sherry Blanchard Stuart, David DeVary, Sue Kroll, Tom Dorr, Larry Fanning, and Susan Bell.
The mural features portraits of famous war horses, racehorses, breeds, and disciplines.
"It's a way to connect with other artists," Lavoie says. "To be part of something bigger."
Le Cadeau du Cheval was unveiled in September 2008; for information on its tour across the United States, visit www.muralmosaic.com.