Arts·Video

Windsor is known for many things, but street art isn't one — Derkz is on a mission to change that

Meet Derkz, one of the artists behind the murals transforming Windsor neighbourhoods.

Meet Derkz, one of the artists behind the murals transforming Windsor neighbourhoods

Windsor is known for many things, but street art isn't one — Derkz is on a mission to change that

CBC Arts

9 months ago
4:28
Meet Derkz, one of the artists behind the murals transforming Windsor neighbourhoods. 4:28

The city of Windsor, Ont, is in many ways defined by its manufacturing heritage, its leadership in the automotive industry and its proximity to its U.S. neighbour Detroit. One thing it is not known for is its street art — but a number of local graffiti artists are hoping to change that.

Windsor-based artist David "Derkz" Derkatz is a graffiti writer and muralist. His work is all over the city, immortalizing everything from civil rights heroes, pop icons and animals to his most recent piece, which is one of Canada's largest murals celebrating frontline workers.

In this doc by filmmaker Sasha Jordan Appler, Derkz is tasked with painting a wall on an abandoned building to revitalize a forgotten part of the city.

"The west end's known for being a little bit more gritty, like a little bit of the rougher part, so they wanted something bold and tough," says Derkz. "I came up with the two-hawk designs."

Graffiti can completely change a community. Once criticized as vandalism, it is now in contemporary terms an alternative to traditional gallery space, showcasing work outside and defining — or sometimes redefining — a neighbourhood's character. These colourful large-scale works, like Derkz's hawk design, create a reason for people to flock to the area and make it feel more welcoming.

Mural artist Derkz in his studio. (CBC Arts)

Watch as Windsor gets transformed by Derkz and fellow graffiti artists Eugenio "Drevmz" Mendoza, Daniel "Denial" Bombardier and Briana "Athena" Benore in the premiere of "Graffiti: The Art that Changes a City" on CBC's Absolutely Canadian series, now streaming on CBC Gem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

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