Jackie mural brings out tall tales in Dickson

CANBERRANS HAVE notoriously strong opinions when it comes to public art, but the new mural has just been completed on a wall near the Dickson Motor Registry features movie superstar Jackie Chan – and so far it’s been all praise.

Ballesteros, left, and Chavez, right, hard at work

Ballesteros, left, and Chavez, right, hard at work

The mural was the brainchild of ACT Legislative Assembly staffer David Chavez, who has engaged the help of professional Sydney artist and fellow Latin American, Ian Ballesteros.

After hearing lots of tall but true stories at the Assembly  about Jackie Chan’s Canberra connections– he attended Dickson College,  worked as a construction worker, funded the Jackie Chan Science Centre, at the ANU – he talked WOTSO WorkSpace into allocating him the space, paid for the paint, got Ballesteros to bring the equipment here and set about creating a huge portrait of Chan confronting a mighty dragon.

So ambitious was his plan that when he got to the wall, Chavez says, he realised that there wouldn’t be enough room, so some of the dragon’s tail and horns have to be imagined “off the picture.” Somehow it makes it even better.

“CityNews” spent some time watching Ballesteros add touches  of bright blue shading and dazzling starbursts to what is bound to catch the eye of all passers-by, especially members of Chinese community, who have expressed admiration for the work.

This particularly pleases Chavez who tells us, “much as we both love our Hispanic heritage, [Bolivian and Nicaraguan] we have enormous respect for Asian culture and the Chinese community.

One admirer who popped over from the local TAB to talk to the artists pronounced the work to be “excellent,”  then  related how once his prize-fighter brother challenged Jackie to a sparring round  near the local shops. He, like just about everyone else was full of praise for Chan’s late father, well-liked local businessman and owner of the Ruby Restaurant.

That’s typical, the artists say – everyone has a story to tell.

As for Chavez and Ballesteros, they are both huge Jackie Chan fans, evincing equal passion for his early films, through to his 80s and 90s movies when he achieved international fame.

They’re just hoping that the great man, on  his next visit to Canberra – he’s mates with former Chief Minister Kate Carnell – will come around and take notice of what they’ve done.

What’s next? Ballesteros is flying off to Los Angeles to do another mural with famous  Mexican American photographer and director Estevan Oriol.

But for Chavez, it’s back to the Legislative Assembly– and who knows what other art-worthy urban stories he might pick up there?

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