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Local graffiti artists use Belleville walkway as canvas

The heritage graffiti mural that is being produced beside the Belle Pub by artists Serna and Sage. “Belleville is a train city and there’s history in that, so that was the direction we took this piece,” Serna says. Photo by Jessica Clement, QNet News

By Jessica Clement  [1]

BELLEVILLE – The walkway that runs beside the Belle Pub [2] in downtown Belleville is getting a paint job this week.

Two local graffiti artists have been hard at work producing a heritage-style mural on the wall of the footpath owned by the pub in hopes of connecting with community members who frequent the downtown area.

The artists, who go by the names Serna and Sage, are collaborating for the piece, which incorporates several styles of spray paint art.

“We didn’t want to approach this by just putting graffiti on the wall. We wanted to do something to give back to the city, something for them to see and appreciate. Belleville is a train city and there’s history in that, so that was the direction we took this piece,” Serna said.

A well-known Peterborough artist, blogger and urban explorer who goes by the name Jerm IX (pronounced germ-nine) made a trip to Belleville Wednesday to watch the duo at work. Jerm says he has known Serna for 10 years, and praises him as an artist.

“He’s a huge inspiration, and what he does for the city of Belleville and the Quinte region is profoundly underrated,” Jerm said. “He is the most positive person that I have ever met, and it shows in his artwork and it shows in the way that he communicates with the people of Belleville.

“He creates these pieces legally for the city, but he also teaches breakdancing to youth, and produces music. The messages in his music are full of positivity.”

Serna says that he has a good working relationship with the city, making a living from custom window painting, interior and exterior murals and tattoo designs.

“I’ve been working with the city of Belleville for over two decades, working with small businesses and offering my services to small shops in the city,” he said.

Graffiti artist Serna painting the mural in downtown Belleville Wednesday. Photo by Jessica Clement, QNet News

He is currently working with the Belleville Downtown Improvement Area [3] helping out with its My Downtown campaign video and photo series.

Sage says he recently moved back to Belleville from Toronto and jumped at the opportunity to create a piece with Serna.

“I’ve been doing graffiti since 1993 with Georgian College in Barrie. I’ve produced work all over the place and lately it’s been more illustrative work on canvases,” Sage said.

Belle Pub owner Sylvia Paz says that she welcomed the idea of the two using the wall to produce their mural.

“They wanted to show their art to the people in the city and they came to me and asked me for the wall. I said absolutely yes – they are excellent guys,” Paz said. “I would say that other people in downtown with empty walls should contact these men. I hope that it will bring people down to this area.”

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