My WPG: Alex Plante

My WPG is a series introducing you to awesome Winnipeggers who share our passion for community-building and localism. In our latest post, meet artist Alex Plante.

My Story: Hi! I’m Alex Plante. You may know me from pictures such as, In Cheryl Lashek We Trust, and Winnipeg, but it looks like The Simpsons. I quit a great full-time job with benefits in June 2018 to pursue a career as an artist. It was TERRIFYING. But … I’m paying my bills with only some debt, so let’s consider it a raging success.

I’ve been in Winnipeg since the fall of 2013, when I moved here to attend the University of Winnipeg. I was born in The Pas but due to my dad’s job in the car business we moved around a lot (I went to three separate kindergartens, and then three more schools in Grade 2) until we finally settled in Brandon when I was 11, so referring to a singular “hometown” is difficult. I was/am a big ol’ choir nerd, did lots of musical theatre, and after high school I worked as a waitress and thought maybe I’d try graphic design at Red River College. I bailed on that, then tried out for acting school instead, which I also bailed on. I tried working at the family car dealership for a while, bailed on that, started the process of applying to animation school, bailed on that, traveled for a while, spent a year in Australia, came home, got a degree in filmmaking, worked on a grand total of one TV set but then had a lot of panic attacks so I bailed on that too, got a job at a spa and learned how to do eyelash extensions … bailed on that. I pretty much made a living taking classes and bailing on every industry I touched for a decade before settling on what I initially planned on doing: drawing pictures. Ironically I have never taken a single formal art class.

 

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Happy Wednesday! I wanted to say hi to all the new people on my followers list and introduce myself a little bit. I am a Manitoba born and raised digital painter and illustrator. Born in The Pas, went to high school in Brandon, and have been in Winnipeg for the last 5 years. Everything I do is in Photoshop, in which I have about 15 years of experience. I take myself extremely seriously 100% of the time, no exceptions. On the side I like to sing in a choir. I also work in radio part-time (@999bobfm @virginradiowinnipeg And TSN 1290) doing promotions and the occasional on-air shift on 103.1 Virgin Radio. Most importantly, I own a very large pair of sweats and I like to pull them up really really high and prance around the apartment (very seriously). – #winnipeg #winnipegartist #meettheartist

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In the last year, I’ve done work for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, Mayor Brian Bowman publicly wore a sweater with my art on it, and I even made Ace Burpee’s 2018 Most Fascinating Manitobans list. Oh, and The Simpsons official Instagram account liked my Simpsons-Winnipeg drawing. Pack it up folks, I peaked early. It’s all downhill from here. As well as being a full-time artist, I have been working part-time in radio since 2015. I started on the street team doing events and social media for 103.1 Virgin Radio, 99.9 BOB FM, and TSN 1290, but now you’re more likely to hear me saying dumb words on Virgin when the regular announcers are on vacation.

 

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Here she is all in one piece! #winnipeg #ilovewpg

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My hood: I used to live in Osborne, until about three years ago. The Roslyn. I didn’t see a single ghost (I feel kind of ripped off about that). You could always hear interesting conversations from my window. I remember one Saturday night after the bars let out, a group of 20-something year old guys were sitting on the stoop, talking. “Actually though, Einstein wasn’t even that smart …” CLASSIC. There was also a guy that used to stand outside the building and yell for Zack at 3 a.m. “ZACK! ZACK! ANSWER YOUR PHONE. HEY! ZACK!” But other than that, Osborne was a great place to live. I was close to UW, I could walk mostly everywhere, and there was always a lot to do. I could see a tiny bit of the Thriller flash mob every year from my window. Being central was great. Walking to Jets games and not having to deal with buses or parking? Yes please! I am sad that I missed the Great Turkey Invasion of 2019, but life goes on I guess. I hope that guy found Zack eventually, it sounded pretty urgent.

I currently live in the Lindenwood area in a cute little condo. It’s a good area, close to the radio station, lots of green space and cute geese (you got a problem with Canada gooses, you got a problem with me and I suggest you let that one marinate), a really nice park with a pond that I like to walk around, and you’re only about a 15 to 20 minute drive from most destinations in the city. I would like it more if people would stop going 55 on roads clearly marked 80.

My go-to takeout: I go to Chosabi way more than I should. The Chosabi Sushirritos and the Poke bowls are so tasty. Sukhothai is another love. OH and Burrito del Rio. I always get the carnitas with black beans, rice, corn, lettuce, guac, mild AND medium salsa, and a lime Jarritos. Ugh I’ve been trying to lose weight because I have exactly zero pairs of pants that fit anymore and I’m clearly hungry.

My favourite local patio: I’m really looking forward to the new patio seating at The Forks! My favourite used to be Black Rabbit in Osborne before they closed. They had a top notch charcuterie board.

My favourite local brunch spot: I think Tallest Poppy takes the crown. Clementine is also great of course, and Stella’s Mexican Breakfast is a staple, but most of all I miss the OG Osborne Village Café! They were the best. Amazing food. I’m a huge sucker for the run-down ’70s diner aesthetic. Plunk me down somewhere with unflattering-yet-delightful green booths, plain white coffee mugs and tasty food, and I’m a happy girl.

My ideal day off: Sleep in, wake up in a sunbeam where it’s not too hot but just gentle and warm, the blankets are soft and cozy and every position is more comfortable than the last. I am awoken by gentle kisses, because my boyfriend has brought me coffee and breakfast in bed (toast made from fresh-baked multigrain bread, topped with perfectly ripe avocado and poached eggs, nestled in a bed of wilted spinach and mushrooms with chunks of crispy bacon). Maybe even a mimosa! We go to the theatre for a matinee and watch a good movie we’ve been meaning to see. We take nice stroll in the sunshine and hang out with baby geese at St. Vital park. I pet lots of dogs. Later we make fresh pasta or pizza from scratch at home and snuggle. I have a glass of wine. After supper we go to Chaeban and eat ice cream. A lot of ice cream. I pet more dogs. A puppy gives me a kiss. At some point during the day someone gives me a few million dollars and we look at house listings. We settle on a cute little three bedroom, two bath with a nice backyard and a small garage, space for a veggie garden and maybe a small pottery studio. I adopt a puppy and a kitten. I eat more ice cream. I never gain weight. In fact, all my pants fit again. It’s a Festivus miracle!

My ideal date night: Hahaha if I answer this honestly, my Baba will read it and call my mother to “discuss her concerns” about what I share with the public. I love you Mom. You’re welcome.

My favourite local coffee shop: I really miss Jonnies Sticky Buns! It had a really great community and I had a lot of good friends that were regulars there. Saturday mornings were the best–people crammed onto the benches like sardines, the rest of us sitting on those old rectangular stools with metal legs and gaudy yet charming orange vinyl floral patterns, the door cracked open regardless of the season to ease the sweltering heat… but there was nothing like rolling in at 10 a.m. on a random Wednesday morning, having a grilled bun and a cup of coffee in a mug with my name on it, and doing a crossword with my buddy who just happened to be there doing the same thing. The shop closed earlier this year and even though Jon still does bun pickups and runs the bun cart, it was definitely the end of an era. Nowadays? Fools + Horses has the best Soy/Oat Flat White. Fight me.

My favourite local event: Fringe is way up there. I’ve been involved in theatre my whole life so I try to make it out to as many shows as I can. My record is nine, I think. We also make a point of going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival every year!

My favourite local band: I’m going to be 100% honest. I hate going out at night, especially to bars, so I am not solid on the local music scene. HOWEVER. I grew up in the Brandon music system and I am blessed to have a buttload of amazing and talented musician friends. I love Begonia and Dirty Catfish Brass Band (shoutout to the super-talented drum master Cody Iwasiuk). Slow Spirit features my very dear friend Natalie Bohrn (she is an incredible bassist who has toured the world) and her partner Eric Roberts who is also an amazing artist and musician. Bicycle Face is on hiatus at the moment but another VERY dear friend of mine, Ava Glendinning, who is a top-notch guitarist, plays and writes ridiculous and quirky songs with Theresa Thorardson. At Christmas they become Myrrhvana and put on a Christmas show. They are delightful. My friend Rachel Quelch, a beautiful witchy woman who makes antler jewelry, sings and plays guitar for Madeira. And of course shout out to my dudes Roman Clarke and Liam Duncan, now solo acts from now-defunct The Middle Coast (formerly Until Red). It amazes me how much talent came out of our little area and how many people I have known since we were kids are absolutely killing it all over the world now. So proud.

My favourite splurge: Thermea, for sure. It’s just such a nice way to disconnect for a day. After making the rounds a few times I love to take a glass of wine or a cup of tea and nap in a heated hammock, or wrap up in a blanket by a fire. I usually fall asleep in the room with the hot slab thing, which makes me nervous because I have been told I made weird noises and jerk around in my sleep. Apparently I laugh too. Anyway, please enjoy that mental image. Really. The working title of my eventual memoir when I am famous enough for people to care will be If Nobody is Laughing at My Pain Then What is the Point of Living?

Best bang for my buck: Tim Hortons’ hot chocolate at a Jets game is a second period tradition.

My best-kept secret: I’ve already said too much.

My guilty pleasure: My biggest guilty pleasure is greatly enjoying gossip about people I don’t know. Not in a reality TV Kardashian kind of way, but like … I love shocking family secrets. I love hearing people complain about their roommates on the bus or talking about why so-and-so sucks. It’s not like I’m looking for a juicy tidbit to share, I guess I just like knowing about the dark sides of people and relationships. Before that the big one was probably Tom Hiddleston interviews on Youtube. There was about a three-month period after the first Avengers movie came out where I had seen literally every single Tom Hiddleston video on Youtube. I was very embarrassed by this, but did it stop me? No. I have incredible tenacity. Oh. Um. Winnipeg-related. Probably Oh Doughnuts or ice cream from anywhere at all because my lactose-sensitive tum has never once appreciated it … but does that stop me? NO. I have incredible tenacity.

One place I can’t walk into without buying something: This might sound like a lame plug because I also have stuff in the shop, but Made Here in the Richardson Concourse is AMAZING. It’s like a very small Third + Bird because a ton of the makers that frequent T+B have permanent stock in there, AND proceeds go to a number of children’s charities in the city so it’s a double win. I have my eye on quite a few things from quite a few makers in there that I have to wrest myself away from before I find myself without enough money for groceries.

My favourite place to take out-of-towners: In the winter, skating on the River Trail at The Forks is honestly one of my shiniest highlights of the year. I think winter has become my favourite season, believe it or not. In the summer … well, a few years ago a good Aussie friend of mine was visiting but I didn’t have a spare bed or a couch for him at the time, so I took him out to Gimli where my grandparents live. We went kayaking. There was a point where we were looking out at the vastness of Lake Winnipeg and I reminded him of, a year prior, when I was visiting him in Australia and we were all swimming in the ocean. There were some decent waves, and I was having a blast jumping into them but all of his friends were kind of shielding me. I asked them what they were doing, and they said, “Oh, most Canadians we know don’t swim that well.” NOT a stereotype I’ve ever heard before, but anyway. Lake Winnipeg. He just laughed and said, “Oh.”

My favourite day trip or weekend away: I LOVE camping, hiking, and rock climbing if I can get out with someone who has the gear and experience to lead. Anything outdoorsy makes me very happy, so anywhere like that is great. We did the Hunt Lake trail a couple years ago, which was beautiful, as were the Spirit Sands hikes out by Carberry. The Whiteshell is always gorgeous, but I’m not against going a little farther away. I was born in The Pas and lived there for nine years total, so Clearwater Lake will always have a special place in my heart. I want to go up to Pisew Falls one of these summers. We made it up to Hecla last winter, which is always amazing, and also stayed with some friends in Clear Lake over New Years. Manitoba is just so beautiful, and sorely underrated. Ugh! There’s so much to see and there is just never enough time. People just don’t know what they’re missing!

One thing I want everyone to know about Winnipeg: I’ve had a lot of homes in a lot of different places, and Winnipeg’s the best one. I planned on leaving as soon as I graduated uni but you people got me. YOU GOT ME, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon so you’re stuck with me now, HA! I’ve been here less than six years but somehow I feel more connected to the community here than I ever have anywhere else (proof: I sound like an absolute shill in all my answers but they’re 100% TRUE and HONEST because there is an insane amount of top-notch quality in the local businesses, artists, people, and I’ve listed only a tiny portion of them!!). I feel a moral duty as an artist to show people how beautiful it can be here. How funny we can be. How much character we have. How kind and generous the people are. I have to say … landing that radio job was one of the biggest turning points of my whole life. It showed me how to appreciate this city, and I’m eternally grateful.

Who do you want to see featured on My WPG?

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