A mural of his feet crossed, looking out as the next generation enjoys the Napanee skateboard park he helped design makes for the perfect tribute to Brendan Smyth.
On Saturday life-long friends Aaron (Erons) Forsythe and Jeremiah Lalande completed a mural in honour of the late Smyth inside the edge of the skate park bowl, located next to the entrance to Spring Side Park.
The painting paid homage to several aspects of Smyth’s life-combining his passion of skating and photography while also recognizing his contributions to the local skateboarding community.
In their younger days, the three friends were instrumental in getting the skate park built.
“They had a hard time finding places that were local (to skateboard), the closest one was Trenton and they didn’t drive so it ended up being moms and dads driving them to Trenton,” recalled Wenda Lalande, Jeremiah’s mother and lifelong family friend of the Smyths. “Bill and Carolyn Rogers owned the Custom Mobile Cement (CMC) in Roblin, their sons were two of the skateboarders, particularly the younger one Hal, and they decided to donate some of their labour.”
Before construction began, the owners of CMC spoke with local skateboarders for input on the final design.
“Brendan Smyth was probably the best skater of the group,” said Wenda. “He went on to become a professional photographer, he travelled all over the world. One of his trips took him to Portland, Ore., where there’s one of the best skating parks in the world.”
“Brendan got cancer about two and a half years ago and he passed away in February,” said Wenda.
He was just 38 when he passed.
Though his life was cut short, he made his mark in the photography industry, taking photos in a multitude of countries. Some of his best were assembled for a book that would later prove to be the inspiration for the mural.
“Every single picture in the book is taken from waist down, he’s sitting on the ground, looking out at something amazing because he travelled all over the world,” explained Wenda. “His feet are crossed and the name of the book is Where My Feet Have Taken Me. So Jeremiah Lalande and Aaron Forsythe went over (Saturday) and Aaron was the artist, he did the artistic work, Jeremiah helped with the background painting, they painted the bowl with Brendan’s legs and feet crossed looking out at this beautiful sky.”
The background was painted to resemble the Napanee skyline.
On Sunday Smyth’s parents, Betty Anne Armstrong and Grant Smyth took a trip to the skate park to get their first look at the art work done in their son’s honour.
Though skateboards may have given way to scooters over the years, the skate park continues to offer kids a local place to gather and practice their sport, just as Smyth did when he was their age.