Murals animate public spaces and add a sense of pride to communities
A UBC Okanagan visual arts instructor used a large concrete wall as a canvas, piles of scaffolding and gallons of paint to turn a summer art course into an urban beautification project.
David Doody, a UBCO Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) alumnus, has been active in the public art realm since completing his degree in 2006. As a visual arts instructor and a member of the Uptown Mural Project, he decided to take a summer art course to a whole new level.
The Kelowna Uptown Mural Project is supported by the Uptown Rutland Business Association. As its artistic director, Doody works to plan each of the urban art murals, connecting artists with the project and working on the project management.
“The uptown mural project grew out of a desire to bring more art to public spaces,” Doody says. “By creating exciting and energetic works of public art, we are transforming our communities into dynamic open-air galleries.”
Doody has been part of UBCO’s department of creative studies for the past two years, where he teaches painting, drawing and sculpture. This summer he taught a fourth-year painting class, leading the students through the many steps necessary to plan, pitch and deliver a public mural.
“UBC’s department of creative studies partnered with CTQ Consultants to create this exciting new art education experience for BFA students,” says Doody. “This course gave students an experience common to painting murals including the use of projectors, mechanical lifts, and a variety of paint applications and techniques.”
For this summer project the students worked to create a full-scale permanent public mural in the heart of Kelowna’s Cultural District. Over the course of the five-week class in July and August, the students met and worked collaboratively to paint a colourful two-storey mural adjacent to the CTQ Consultants building on St. Paul Street.
CTQ Consultants were enthusiastic about supporting the first UBCO mural course, says founding partner Matt Cameron, adding that they have had positive previous experiences building portions of the campus as well as creating the first-ever engineering scholarship which is now a bursary into perpetuity.
“Although we submitted many of our projects to help David create the CTQ mural, showcasing our 2020 theme of community, we asked that he select an appropriate reflection of what CTQ means to our community and what the community means to CTQ. What David chose was one of our highlights and challenges which turned into an amazing project at Harrison Hot Springs.”
Cameron explains a project where an old pump was inefficient in moving floodwaters, creating a fish mortality rate of 100 per cent. Cameron came up with an old concept—an Archimedes Screw pump which originally was created in 250 BC—and added power to it. The pump was painted a fish-friendly canary yellow and, once operational, reached the goals of both reduction of fish mortality to under 2 per cent and safe handling of any potential floodwaters.
“This collaboration with UBCO and CTQ, combined with the hard work of many individuals, has given the students an opportunity to create their masterpiece in our parking lot on the north-facing wall at CTQ’s Kelowna office. This is a great addition and our entire team is proud to have been a part of cheering up the downtown core,” adds Cameron.
Street art initiatives and murals have revitalized urban centres across the country, adds Doody. These open-air public galleries add a splash of colour onto aging architecture and breathe new life into their surrounding communities.
“These vibrant and bold contributions to the neighbourhood, are celebrated by locals and tourists all year round,” he says. “They are recognized as important sites for contemporary Canadian culture.”
Learn more about the uptown mural project at: www.uptownmurals.com