PHOTOS: Inaugural mural festival brightens up downtown core of Fraser Valley city

Artist Kevin Ledo steps back to look at his mural of Inez Louis while painting it on the back of a building on Victoria Avenue in downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Artist Kevin Ledo chats with a security guard, who brought him bottles of water, about his mural of Inez Louis on Victoria Avenue in downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Artist Kevin Ledo works on his mural of Inez Louis at the back of a building on Victoria Avenue in downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Artist Kevin Ledo works on his mural of Inez Louis at the back of a building on Victoria Avenue in downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vancouver artist David Ullock (aka Druvid) paints an abstract ‘dream creature’ mural in on Mill Street on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Carrielynn Victor works on her rabbit mural on Wellington Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Carrielynn Victor works on her rabbit mural with fellow artist Chantelle Trainor-Matties on Wellington Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
People walk past Kyle Mirva’s mural on Mill Street on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Carin Bondar’s colourful glass mosaic mural, seen here on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, is located on Mill Street. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vancouver artist Oksana Gaidasheva works on her ‘yawning kitty’ mural in Court Lane off Mill Street on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vancouver artist Oksana Gaidasheva mixes paint for her ‘yawning kitty’ mural in Court Lane off Mill Street on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vancouver artist Oksana Gaidasheva takes a break from painting her ‘yawning kitty’ mural in Court Lane off Mill Street on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Walking through downtown Chilliwack is like perusing an outdoor art gallery.

The inaugural Chilliwack Mural Festival features eight Canadian artists who have transformed drab brick walls and boarded-up doorways into colourful works of public art.

The painting of the murals wraps up on Aug. 20 and includes five Chilliwack artists: Mavik, Chris Woods, Carrielynn Victor, Carin Bondar and Kyle Mirva. They are joined by featured artist Kevin Ledo of Montreal, as well as Oksana Gaidasheva and David Ullock (aka Druvid) both of Vancouver.

It all came about when organizer Amber Price “ran out of walls” at her business, The Book Man. The back walls of her store have been enhanced with four different murals over the years.

Her love of murals is so huge she wanted to beautify neighbouring businesses. So Price began to research mural festivals and ended up meeting up with a woman in Nelson, B.C. last summer who was organizing the second annual mural festival in that city.

When she was in Nelson, Price saw a piece by Kevin Ledo. She instantly knew she wanted one of his murals in Chilliwack and soon after began planning for the inaugural Chilliwack Mural Festival.

Then COVID-19 hit.

“I’ve been dreaming of this for a year… it’s just a shame that we can’t have the party at the end.”

She had big plans for a youth-focussed wrap-up party with skateboard halfpipes, dancers, live music, a light show and a DJ.

When the pandemic hit, plans changed.

She then decided she would bring just Ledo into town to paint a big mural. But, one thing led to another and it “snowballed” from there. Before she knew it, the Chilliwack Mural Festival had grown to eight artists.

The event is in partnership with the Chilliwack Community Arts Council and the more than $22,000 in funding comes from the arts council, Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network, The Book Man, Tourism Chilliwack, City of Chilliwack, and Chilliwack Citizens for Change. Additionally, various local businesses and families have pitched in money and supplies.

The murals are located in the area of Wellington Avenue, Mill Street and Victoria Avenue and they range in size and theme.

Ledo’s piece is of local singer-songwriter Inez Louis. It is, by far, the biggest mural in the festival taking up the majority of the back of a brick building located at Victoria Avenue and Mill Street. The image of Inez for the mural was taken by her husband Justin Louis.

Other pieces include a rainbow coloured mosaic glass mural by Bondar, an abstract “dream creature” by Druvid, and a rabbit by Victor.

RELATED: Murals ‘help build community’ says Indigenous Chilliwack artist

One mural that was completed in Court Lane off Mill Street is of a “kitty yawning,” said artist Gaidasheva. It’s not an angry cat as some people have suggested.

Some artists project their image on the wall and then use pencil to outline the design, others use a grid as a guide, while some paint freehand while looking at their work on a smartphone or piece of paper.

The artwork has been installed in the storefronts and walls of both occupied and vacant buildings.

“Some people sleeve their arms, I want to sleeve all the buildings,” Price said, referring to people with many tattoos.

One objective is to attract folks, and not just the locals, to downtown Chilliwack.

“My goal is 40 permanent pieces in the downtown. That’s enough to make people pull off the highway and come downtown.”

Having done a lot of research on public art over the years, Price explains some of the benefits.

“Statistically it lowers property crime, it raises civic pride and it gives people points of conversation.”

It also makes people slow down in their travels and interact with the art, whether that be by taking a photo of it or chatting with a stranger about the piece.

“It creates these little pockets of art all over the place. I think these things raise our feelings of happiness and connectedness.”

Price said Chilliwack’s youth experience “brain drain.” They leave to go to cities like Vancouver, and she wants to draw them back to Chilliwack.

“I want to show them that the creative class is valued… that their work, their minds are valued here.”

As of Thursday, Aug. 20, all of the murals will be complete.

And although there won’t be a big party to wrap it all up, Price is encouraging people to walk around downtown and enjoy the newly installed murals safely while supporting local businesses.

READ MORE: Mayor votes against city funding for mural festival


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Art

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Surrey school district proposing 13 new schools in the next decade

Staff suggest new designs for future builds to maximize school space

Two Surrey schools report COVID-19 exposures, including second contact for Panorama Ridge

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Delta McDonald’s temporarily closed after employees test positive for COVID-19

Two employees at the Annacis Island location (1285 Cliveden Ave.) reported testing positive on Sept. 18

Scarecrow Festival given COVID twist

Art’s Nursery’s annual fall fundraiser, on the Langley-Surrey border, continues with some tweaks

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Most Read