Walkerville artist paints mural in honour of front-line COVID-19 workers

The Walkerville Tavern on Wyandotte Street E. was broken into on March 26. The front window was smashed, and because the bar was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the owners decided to board up the front window to protect the bar.

But kitchen manager George Rizok wasn't about to leave it at that.

Rizok — who's also an artist — transformed plywood into canvas, in the process paying tribute to health-care professionals and others working on the frontlines of the pandemic.

"It was a great honour to do something like that. I'm just glad people are enjoying it," said Rizok.

Cara Kennedy

The mural depicts health-care workers, as well as custodial staff, police, delivery people and grocery store workers.

The health-care professional that features prominently in the middle of the mural is Bella Riccardi, one of the employees at the tavern who also works as a respiratory therapist in Kingston, Ont.

"Honestly, I teared up when I recognized it was her," said Cara Kennedy, the owner of the bar.

Kennedy posted pictures of the mural on Facebook, adding that Riccardi was shocked and touched by the piece.

It was a great honour to do something like that. - George Rizok, Kitchen Manager, Walkerville Tavern

According to Kennedy, Ricardi was moved by the fact that Rizok even painted the earrings that Ricardi always wears.

"To me, that's a tribute that George recognized and wanted to give to her," Kennedy said.

"It's a form of joy. It's something that can put a smile on people's faces."

The Walkerville BIA has tapped Rizok to create more murals throughout the district with similar themes.

"I just want to thank everyone who is working to keep us safe," said Rizok.