Michael Gaudet has been painting murals across Canada since the late 1970s, in his words, to ‘leave his mark on the world.’
Now, he is coming back to his hometown to give a reading from his memoirs ‘Dancing With Rejection’ and ‘A Work In Progress’ at the Truro library on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
“The first book, ‘Dancing With Rejection,’ a lot of it is set right in Nova Scotia so I want to read some passages that were reminiscent of the province,” said Gaudet.
Over the last 40 years, Gaudet has painted more than 60 murals across the country, including a mural for the town of Young, Sask., which is claimed to be the largest freestanding mural in the world, measuring 20 feet high and 80 feet wide.
Born in the Annapolis Valley and raised in Truro, Gaudet always knew he wanted to be an artist and dedicated himself to art after graduating from high school.
“It was something that was engrained in my brain when I was growing up,” he said.
“I never really deviated from art, and so when I was 18 I went to art school in Halifax, which is when I actually started painting. From there, I never looked back.”
Gaudet didn’t intend on becoming a mural painter, but after being commissioned to do a banner for the 1977 Joseph Howe Festival and a large mural for the St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, it became an obvious career choice.
“The mural at St. Mary’s Basilica put me on the map as a mural painter,” he said.
“I was 22 at the time I did that, and never thought of being a mural painter, but it just happened. I got so much publicity from the mural and festival banner that I realized mural painting would be a viable route to take.”
Around that time, Gaudet was dealt a life-changing illness that gave him a ‘do-or-die’ attitude towards art, and pushed him to take a chance at making a career out of painting.
“I was diagnosed with kidney failure when I was 19, around the same time I started painting murals,” said Gaudet.
“After my diagnosis, around seven months later, my brother Steven donated one of his kidneys to me. The transplant lasted over 34 years, which I think is some sort of longevity record in western Canada.”
With a new passion and word getting out about his murals, Gaudet moved to Saskatchewan to pursue his arts career.
In 2014, Gaudet’s transplant failed on him, forcing him to start dialysis treatment again while he waits for another donor.
The experience of his kidney failing a second time changed his life yet again, lighting a fire under him and pushing him to focus on a different project - writing his memoirs.
“When I went back on dialysis in 2014, the first thing I did was buy a laptop,” he said.
“I had three or four hours of me time three times a week, and I always thought of myself as a wannabe author, so I just started typing, and in one year I had written my first book.”
Gaudet was trying to push out as much as he could creatively.
As his first book was released, he was already working on his second book, ‘A Work In Progress,’ which was released a few weeks ago.
Currently, Gaudet resides in Manitou Beach, Sask., where he and his wife Shanon Gibson run an art gallery, ‘G-G’s Gallery & Gifts.’
He is still on dialysis, but feels healthy enough to work on future projects, such as a third book and a new 100-by-12-foot mural, as well as travel back home for the first time in three years to see family and friends.
“When you’re a dialysis patient, there are no guarantees you’ll get a transplant or that you’ll live,” said Gaudet.
“When I started it again, I didn’t know how much time I had left on this planet, so I decided to just get as much stuff out creatively as I could. With the murals, I felt it was the way I could leave my mark on this planet.”
If You Go:
Memoirs by Michael R. Gaudet
Wednesday, Dec. 13 – 6:30 P.M.
Truro Public Library