Once facing graffiti charges, street artist Kurs goes legit with a proper art show

Windsor street artist known as Kurs says he wants to make amends following some 2021 vandalism in the city.

The Windsor artist is holding an art show starting Friday, March 24

A man sitting on a chair, smiling at the camera with artwork and paint behind him.
Kalvin Mercier, also known as Kurs from his signatures around the city, was hit in 2021 with multiple mischief charges. (CBC)

The street artist Kalvin Mercier — also known as Kurs from his tags around Windsor, Ont. — says he wants to make amends and be taken seriously in the art world after some graffiti charges two years ago.

The Windsor artist is holding an art show starting Friday, March 24. He faced multiple mischief charges in 2021 after spray painting graffiti on businesses and residences in Ford City and other places around Windsor. 

"I would love to right my wrongs within the community, and sort of be more of like a positive figure," Mercier said.

The art show will run through the weekend at the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre.

He said 10 per cent of the art show's proceeds will go toward Drouillard Place, a non-profit, multi-service organization serving the Drouillard and Grandview communities, according to their website

Making amends

Ford City BIA chair Shane Potvin said it was a surprise when Mercier reached out to him to make amends.

"It seems like he's done tagging the city," he said. "He's learned his lesson, because he didn't understand the rules at the time."

Back in 2021, Potvin called the graffiti "destructive" and "sad."

"What was most surprising about the that display was that it was so widespread," he said in a recent interview.

"There was so much of it, it seemed really kind of careless and thrown together."

Mercier said he started his art career with the wrong foot.

"[For me] it was more of like, pick a simple character and do it everywhere, and then people will remember," he said.

"But I went about it the wrong way, obviously."

"I didn't want that publicity."

Changing a bad reputation

Mercier's art has also changed from his classic characters he could spray paint quickly with a few lines.

"I'm very big on characters and faces in a very abstract, colourful style and I feel like I have a good eye for like picking the right colours."

He's inspired by artists like Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring and their "colourful" and "cartoony" styles.

He hopes to change the perception of his art compared to two years ago.

"I want to become more of a positive influence and kind of changed the narrative of how the first chapter started out," he said.