Mural

Steve MacNaull/The Okanagan Weekend

The public washrooms building at Lion’s Park has a new wrap-around wall art as part of the Uptown Rutland Mural Project. Pictured here at the party celebrating the mural’s completion are Uptown Rutland Business Association executive director Laurel D’Andrea, left, artistic director David Doody and student artist Daniel Cortens.

Anything squat, made of cider block and called a bunker deserves to be festooned with a mural.

As such, the exterior walls of the public washrooms at Lions Park in Rutland have gone from drab to fab with a huge rainbow-stripe-and-daisy wraparound paint job.

“Artists love doing murals because they are big and in spaces where they will be seen by a lot of people,” said Daniel Cortens, 18, one of eight Rutland Secondary School students who worked on the project.

“And to think I waited until the last minute to sign up to do this. I’m hooked now. I want to help with the other murals now, if I can.”

There very well might be more opportunities for artistic expression for Cortens as the Uptown Rutland Business Association is in the midst of a mural jag.

The Lions Park washrooms mural is the second of seven such pieces of huge, public art that will be finished this summer in Rutland’s commercial core.

The association’s mural project kicked off mid-May with “Evolution” a massive and colourful abstract piece on the formerly blank and windowless wall of 158 Valleyview Rd. at Highway 33.

Another mural is almost finished along the stairs at Valleyview Chiropractic.

And next week, four murals will be finished concurrently at Valley First Credit Union, Christ Church, Save More Pawn Broker and Christman Plumbing.

“This is all part of our beautification initiative,” said association executive director Laurel D’Andrea.

“First there were planters and banners and now there are murals. We wanted to do something on a big scale and trendsetting and murals fit the bill.”

Murals are not new. Cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Nelson have such concentrations of them that they have mural festivals.

Vernon prides itself on its historic murals downtown.

“Rutland has the edge for big, colourful, artistic murals,” said D’Andrea.

“Plus, we had the wall space available and so many places where so many people walk and drive by every day to see and enjoy them.”

Besides being eye candy or thought-provoking pieces of art, murals have another attribute.

Taggers tend not to graffiti over murals because it would be disrespectful to a fellow artist.

“So, for the murals we picked spaces that were continually getting tagged,” said D’Andrea.

The association initially identified 30 walls in Rutland that could sport murals.

The project starts with the seven this summer with funding of $55,000 from the association, $12,000 from the Central Okanagan Foundation and $10,000 from the City of Kelowna.

Two or three more murals every summer for many years will fill out the project.

If you want to see the artists in action, you can drop by any of the five sites being painted today through Friday at noon.

Friday at noon, the Rutland Urban Art and Artisan Market will kick off at the Shepherd Road Transit Exchange. The exchange is within view of a couple of the murals and will feature vendors, entertainment and food.

There will also be volunteers leading walking tours to ogle all seven murals.

On UptownMurals.com there’s a map you can use to set your own self-guided mural walking tour.

The association’s Grub Crawl on Sept. 17, which sees diners walk between 10 restaurants for bites and drinks, will also tie-in the murals with a map and instructions for participants to spy the art.

The association also hopes to eventually have a mural and music festival.