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Artistic inspiration can come from many places and can take unexpected turns.


This painting is a visual dance between inspiration and interpretation that began with a single drone photograph captured by local Winnipeg artist Dan Harper. That photo depicted a bird’s eye view of the metal framework for RAW Almond, a winter pop-up restaurant that has graced the Assiniboine River near its junction with the Red River since 2012. The artwork transcends its photographic roots and becomes a celebration of Winnipeg’s winter spirit. In the photo, construction workers were on site and metal framing materials were laid out against the backdrop of the white snow.


The finished painting doesn’t bear much resemblance to the photo that inspired me. If you could peel back to the early layers of paint you would see the structure shown in the drone photo. However, stirred by the essence of RAW Almond as envisioned by Mandel Hitzer, the owner of Deer + Almond and the creative force behind the pop-up, and by my own experience attending one of the dinners, the trajectory of the painting changed dramatically.


As I progressed, I realized that the artwork wasn’t capturing the aspect of RAW Almond that had been in the back of my mind the whole time - a gathering of people in an unlikely place, celebrating something that most of us bemoan about living in Winnipeg - the frigid winter season. I had read a few interviews that Mandel gave over the years about the winter pop-up and it seemed to me that the essence of RAW Almond is to turn our preconceptions about Winnipeg winters on its head and showcase the true warmth that exists in our city. At it’s heart, RAW Almond is a gathering of friends and strangers in a thoughtfully designed shelter on the frozen river enjoying fabulous food lovingly prepared by a community of chefs brought together by Hitzer who, together with his team had a vision to celebrate our great city in a way that is authentically Winnipeg.


The transformation that unfolded as my painting evolved includes the scene turning to night - the perimeter of the painting now cloaked in darkness with cool hits of icy turquoise that echo the winter chill. The perspective, once entirely overhead, now shifts to invite the viewer to stand near the entrance of the restaurant. The restaurant itself radiates the warmth that emanates from within.


Emotions and reflections intertwine in this artwork to capture the essence of RAW Almond. Mercury’s hope is that the viewer will be reminded that even in the coldest of seasons, the true heart of a city can be found in the shared moments of joy and connection.


DIMENSIONS: 36 x 48 x.75 inches


MATERIALS: Made with professional quality acrylic paint on canvas wrapped on a back stapled wooden frame. Finished with a high gloss varnish to help protect the artwork from damage and dust.


© Kimberly Mercury 2024. All rights reserved.


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