Creativity and colour is being added piece-by-piece to our streets, and it’s thanks to the Chilliwack Public Art Advisory Committee.
“For a brand-new committee, we’re kicking butt. We are getting a lot done,” says committee chair Sue Attrill.
Chilliwack’s public art includes several pieces that have already been installed, a few in the works, and some future ideas. They range from wall murals to sculptures to photo-wrapped hydro boxes.
“Every city should be beautiful because people will treat it better,” she says.
A brightly coloured ‘spring flower’ wall, featuring blossoms of various sizes, was the first mural to be completed.
It has a late-Beatles, hippie vibe to it and was painted last year by a group of Grade 4 and 5 students from Central elementary. It’s located on Victoria Avenue outside the former Logan’s Home Hardware store.
Throughout the city are numerous hydro boxes that have been wrapped with images taken in Chilliwack, such as corn and raspberries. The images were submitted as part of a photo contest put on by the city.
Outside the Chilliwack Cultural Centre is a piece called Visions by artist Jim Unger, plus a piano that has been transformed into a flower planter. The Visions sculpture is a tower of copper picture frames celebrating 50 years of ‘local realtors helping to create local dreams’. It was funded by Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and the city.
Most recently is a mural on the rear wall of The Book Man showcasing a row of vibrant books with titles such as ‘The book that inspired me’, ‘My childhood favourite’, and ‘The book I have yet to read’.
Wheels of Change by Sylvie Roussel-Janssens, was a temporary public art piece installed in the spring of 2015.
The city has received several requests for public art over the years, mainly by local artists. With the urging of a few city council members, the Chilliwack Public Art Advisory Committee was established in 2014.
The committee is made up of ten members including Patti Lawn of the Chilliwack Community Arts Council, Michael Cade with the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, Ryan Huston of Craven Huston Powers Architects, two city councillors, plus local artists.
The art is paid for mainly by the city and sponsors, and the city has been given a budget of $80,000 for three years.
In order for a public art piece to be installed, an application must be submitted to the city. It then goes to the public art committee for review, a staff report is written up, then it goes to council to be voted on.
Public art not only adds unique sites for people to enjoy, it also decreases vandalism.
“The other thing it does, is it stops graffiti. (The artists) don’t want to graffiti over a mural, they want a clean canvas,” says Attrill. “It answered a problem we were having, and it promotes public art.”
Next up is a mural for the exterior wall of Harvest Cafe which will combine science with aboriginal art. The design has already been approved, and it is expected to be completed this fall.
There are three roundabouts in the works to have art installed as well. Structures are placed in the centres of roundabouts to prevent people from driving straight through them. The committee is inviting the arts community to pitch ideas to them as far as what sculptures should be placed in each roundabout.
The first two roundabouts to be home to public art will be the newly completed ones on Prest Road, which will have a “funky” agriculture focus, says Attrill. The other piece, with no set theme, will be at the Evans Road roundabout.
Another upcoming piece that the city is working on — this one with the Chilliwack Community Arts Council — is the Canada 150 Mosaic Mural.
It’s part of a nation-wide project. A total of 150 mosaic murals will be created across Canada in preparation for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. An artist will create the Chilliwack-inspired design, then 600 members of our community will each get a 4×4-inch tile to paint. Each tile will be pre-painted with a piece of the mural and people will need to stay within the colour scheme painted on their tile. The 600 tiles will then be mounted, sealed, and installed next year on the wall of the Landing Sports Centre. The finished piece will be 8×12 feet.
Attrill has one more public art piece that she’s pushing for.
“I would like to find a great big wall that would be a graffiti wall,” she says. “Local graffiti artists would take turns. They would have to submit something and (their piece) would be up for a certain period of time. They would have a very productive and healthy place to display their art.”
“It has really cut down on graffiti elsewhere, in other cities that have this,” she adds.
Those interested in submitting a public art piece for review can fill out an application form by emailing Carolyn Marleau at the City of Chilliwack at firstname.lastname@example.org.