Artist's mural a poetic illustration of life on Vernon's streets | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Artist's mural a poetic illustration of life on Vernon's streets

Peter Doré, 30, was commissioned by the People Place to paint a mural on the garbage enclosure. The painting is now largely complete as Doré displays his efforts Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
September 10, 2019 - 6:00 AM

VERNON - A group of street-entrenched people seek respite from the rain under a tall tree in Linear Park.

Peter Doré doesn’t mind the rain, he says as he leaves the Upper Room Mission and walks across 27 Avenue through the People Place parking lot. Across from Doré, a garbage bin is protected from 25 Avenue and Linear Park by a nearly six-foot-high cement enclosure.

There’s a sense of pride about Doré as he walks past the cement wall where, on the side facing Linear Park and 25 Avenue, his elaborate hand-painted mural catches the eye of an elderly gentleman rolling past on a scooter. The man smiles at Doré, who is quick to smile back. Opposite him is a vast expanse of jungle and swamp, Doré's mural.

"It was kind of a loose idea. I didn’t really have anything in my mind except the idea of a jungle,” the 30-year-old artist says as he lifts the hood of his grey and green sweater onto his head. “People usually stay away from this part of town. I tried to make the jungle to be kind of a poetic representation of how it is around here."

Commissioned by the People Place to paint the enclosure, Doré saw it as an opportunity to illustrate his views of life and the world around him.

"It kind of just came out naturally as I’m painting, it felt like I’m in a jungle. I could feel the craziness, how everybody’s just out to survive and fight for their own peace,” he says. “It fuelled me. It made me feel the jungle.”

Doré kneels to showcase a fisherman on the mural. Clad in a white University of Quebec at Montreal T-shirt, he says it is a representation of himself and how he left his home in Quebec to come to Vernon a few years ago. A serene tropical motif complete with jellyfish and a coral reef surrounds the fisherman.

Hidden in the painting, however, are traces of tragedy. A shipwreck is seen near the coral reef while a lone survivor makes his way through the jungle away from a plane crash.

"It’s very odd. This work of art is completely different from anything I’ve ever done before. Just the fact that there’s colour, there’s no people it’s more of a landscape — it’s completely different. I don’t even know how it came out so easily.”

Doré walks around the enclosure to the side opposite the tropical scene. The carcass of a large animal fills the wall.

“The whole thing was almost like a chain reaction. I started with this little branch thing that kind of comes out of nowhere, and it just unleashed itself.”

Work on the mural began at the beginning of September, Doré recalls as he seeks shelter from the rain under a nearby tree. Drawing inspiration from Michelle Loughery’s murals that dot downtown Vernon, he says the intent is to curb the graffiti often found on the enclosure. The plan was to spend about 60 hours painting, but, 120 hours later, he still finds room for extra flowers, extra life. He laughs and says he often gets carried away by the scope of a project.

Pierre "Peter" Doré holds up one of his recent drawings in this file photo from April 2019.

Inside the Mission, in Josh Winquist’s office, two black and white drawings stand side-by-side. More than 200 people are found within the lines, all of whom are people Doré has met in his community. It’s an honest representation of street life. In one scene, young children are playing as a construction worker walks past and a group of people enjoy conversation on the lawn. In another, a syringe lies in the gutter. It’s a study in contrast that mimics life in Vernon. A third illustration will soon join the others.

Often using a cooler as his table to draw while in the minivan he calls home, Doré saw the outdoor painting as a challenge. But it’s a challenge he took on willingly.

"I almost always had to work really late at night because the sun, well maybe not anymore, would be blistering hot. Often I would be here really late at night,” Doré laughs. “Once I was painting, just keep on painting keep on painting, and I look in the sky and was like, ‘Is that the sun coming up? It was 4:30 a.m. and I was like, ‘Wow. I’ve got to get some sleep.'”

As Doré stands next to the mural and points out hidden imagery, a small frog on a branch and an octopus in the water, he is jubilant.

“People really like it and they like seeing me paint too. The cars honk when they see me paint. Some people, at night, when they’re walking by, they look at it and they’re like, 'I was feeling so depressed and then I just see this out of nowhere,' and for a second they just completely zone out and the stress goes away. Some people, it really makes them happy when they come by here… I feel the same way. I don’t really feel like I’m in control. I almost feel like I’m one of them, just an audience member watching it unfold. It feels natural,” Doré smiles. “They see that I’m doing something good and I’m focusing on my passion.”

After selling a few more paintings, Doré says he plans on buying a trailer to move into.

Rain continues to fall as Doré makes his way back to the Upper Room Mission. As a man who has spent time with Vernon’s street-entrenched, he says he knows there is more to them than people often see. Doré says he has struggled at times in his past, but it’s all about taking life step-by-step. He hopes his story will help others in the community.

"No matter how big that mountain looks, if you just go one step at a time, you’ll make it,” Doré smiles. “Even if they’re on the streets, if they just focus and do one thing at a time, they could get out."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Parker Crook or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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