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Famed polar bear artist paints massive ode to Manitoba in YWG terminal

July 10, 2023

Categories: At YWG

Famed Winnipeg artist Kal Barteski stands on an upside-down five-gallon pail as she paints a mural on the Departures Level of the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport terminal.

There’s a bold new addition to the Departures Level of the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport terminal, thanks to a renowned local artist’s creative vision and talent.

In just under three weeks, Winnipeg painter Kal Barteski transformed an otherwise blank space near the entrance to the airport’s domestic and international pre-board security screening area into an incredible 100-foot-long mural. Known equally for her distinct script style and incredibly detailed polar bears, Barteski’s work is instantly recognizable. It can already be found in homes and public spaces all over the province, but creating a piece in such a unique environment was a dream come true for the artist.

“It was so fun, uplifting, and inspiring to create in this space,” said Barteski. “Painting in the terminal allowed me to be part of countless departures moments, whether that be hugs, tears, or laughs while people said goodbye. It’s beautiful to see the power of human connection in real time.”

Barteski describes the hard-to-miss art piece as her love letter to Manitoba. It incorporates multiple scenes, including an aurora borealis nightscape, a prairie farm, and of course, a polar bear across a hoarding wall, a temporary structure used to separate a construction site from the public. While hoarding walls are regularly used at YWG, this is the first time a local artist has painted one, which can be reused in other areas of the terminal once the current construction project is complete.

The mural also plays a part in helping to further Winnipeg Airports Authority’s commitment to creating a high-quality and positive airport journey experience for travellers. Different words evocative of Manitoba as well as WAA’s new vision statement, "Where bold journeys take flight", are also woven throughout the piece. Barteski hopes the art resonates, inspires, and brings joy to everyone who passes through the airport.

“I encourage people to stop and take pictures with the mural, to share them, and most importantly, remember to love where you are,” said Barteski. “Whether you’re visiting or you were born here, I hope this piece reminds everyone of all the great things about Manitoba that we are lucky to spend time in.”

“It was so fun, uplifting, and inspiring to create in this space."