Muralist Emmanual Jarus of Toronto in front of his latest work in Chilliwack on July 24, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Muralist Emmanual Jarus of Toronto in front of his latest work in Chilliwack on July 24, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

VIDEO: Chilliwack morphing into city of street murals

Big-name muralists drawn to Chilliwack, as was B.C.’s minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport

Celebrated muralist Emmanual Jarus has left exquisite portraits on walls all over the world, and now he’s leaving his mark on little ol’ Chilliwack.

The wall outside Michael’s on Main now has a Jarus figure sprawled across it, eyes closed in languor, head resting on arm.

This latest work by Jarus, in his painterly, almost Impressionist style, is among 21 new murals that have revitalized the downtown as part of the Chilliwack Mural Festival.

The festival was successful this year in attracting some big names in the world of high-end street art like Jarus, as well as Kevin Ledo, who did the Inez mural, and Jason Botkin who’s been transforming the wall behind the Royal Hotel.

And it’s no accident.

“It’s awesome what Amber (Price) is doing here,” Jarus says about the Chilliwack Mural Festival that Price founded, which continues to grow. His mural was supported by the Chilliwack Community Arts Council.

Born in Saskatchewan, Jarus started spray-painting freight trains before he gravitated to large-scale portraits on wall murals. He’s a nomad, having been commissioned to paint in places like Germany, as well as India, Sweden, New Zealand, and across North America.

“I’ve seen this model in different cities and countries but to see it being tried here in Canada is really nice.”

He’s talking about a funding model where artists are commissioned by a group or organization to paint a street mural, whether they find sponsors to pay the artist’s commission, or fund it themselves.

“They make a mini gallery inside their town,” Jarus said. “They curate which artists come and what walls they do, and it’s a lot of work so it’s amazing when people like Amber decide to make it their vocation.”

Asked why talented muralists of his calibre, and Botkin’s, for example, are starting to make their way to Chilliwack, Jarus again points to the approach of the curator, who takes care of myriad administrative details, and looks after the artists.

RELATED: Botkin’s piece an ode to local waters

“You have a good curator. So she’s not imposing a lot of stuff on the artists when she invites them,” Jarus said.

Established muralists were allowed to set their price to some degree.

“It opens up the door for people like Botkin and I, especially this year, when there’s not that much international travel going on,” Jarus explained. “It was a really good time to open our schedules and come here.”

With a lack of annoying stipulations pinning the artist down, it is quite freeing, he said. Jarus will be back in town in August to complete his portrait on Main Street.

Also attracted to the murals downtown this week was Melody Mark, B.C. minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, who along with Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter, were given a whirlwind tour of some of the 21 works by festival founder Amber Price.

“I know the pandemic really shined a light on how important tourism, arts, culture and sport is to people’s lives.

“Artists like Carrielynn Victor, who is good friend, someone I am very proud of; is someone who is just painting her talent all over this province.

“Artists are truth-tellers. They are the people who connect us, and bind us, and bring us together.

“I have huge mural contributions in my riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and I think we just have to stand behind artists more than ever after everything they’ve been through in the pandemic.”

RELATED: Festival started last summer with 8 works

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Gazing at the Kevin Ledo mural of Inez Louis in Chilliwack on July 27, 2021, were Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter, Chilliwack Mural Festival founder Amber Price, and Melanie Mark, B.C. minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Gazing at the Kevin Ledo mural of Inez Louis in Chilliwack on July 27, 2021, were Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter, Chilliwack Mural Festival founder Amber Price, and Melanie Mark, B.C. minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Melanie Mark, B.C.’s minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport, touring downtown murals in Chilliwack on July 27, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Melanie Mark, B.C.’s minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport, touring downtown murals in Chilliwack on July 27, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)