A small crowd gathered in a parking lot downtown Chilliwack a few Sundays ago, as the latest mural got its finishing touches.
The artist is Chris Perez, and the mural stretches along a brick wall off Mill Street. It resembles a water colour, with giant flowing flowers reaching from one end in violet, then reds, then blues, before fading away to the other end.
Vehicles pull over and people get out to admire the work closer. Walkers stop by and chat with each other, all keeping an eye on the magic of the spray paint as it slowly adds context and movement to the piece.
This is just one of many murals brightening up the downtown core.
Perez, an artist currently based out of Vancouver, also has been busy creating a piece at Galaxie Craft Beer in White Rock. He arrived in Chilliwack on a Friday (May 21) and got to work right away. He painted through the day on Saturday, and finished up Sunday morning.
He enjoyed taking in the other murals around the area, commissioned by the Chilliwack Mural Festival. He said the viewer is an integral part of any artwork.
“The image is not done until the viewer sees it,” he says. “But what’s cool about public art (as an artist) is that you engage with the people around you.”
So while he eventually leaves his work behind in the cities he visits, he still gets some time to experience people seeing it for the first time. And public art is for everyone, he adds.
There is no entrance fee. No dress code. And interacting with people who live on the streets are some of his favourites experiences.
“Those interactions are the most fulfilling,” he says. They are the ones who are viewing the art more than anyone, and it can remind them of beauty, open their eyes to art, and bring them joy just like anyone else.
So he stays mindful of his surroundings when he’s painting, so it fits the environment. For this piece, he felt that the bright colours he used were missing.
He’s been stuck pretty close to home, like everyone, for the duration of the pandemic, but is eyeing up future possibilities across Canada and the rest of the world when more travel restrictions are lifted.
“I’m always keeping my ear to the ground,” he says, and travels around to take part in art festivals. This piece was commissioned by the Chilliwack Mural Festival, with sponsorship through Tourism Chilliwack and The Book Man.
There are more murals to come this year, says the festival’s brainchild Amber Price. She is stretching them out this year to avoid crowding around murals and artists.
Some of the murals are permanent while others are meant to be temporary. There is also a new piece in the alleyway of the Mill Street parking area, by Siobhan D’Souza. It’s under the new lights in the alley, Price notes.
Chilliwack artist Lucas Simpson also has a new piece on Mill Street, by Cornerstone Custom Picture Framing and Gallery.
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