iN PHOTOS: Take the back alley tour of Kamloops's downtown murals | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN PHOTOS: Take the back alley tour of Kamloops's downtown murals

September 06, 2020 - 6:00 AM

Whether you've got family coming from out of town, or just feel like playing tourist for an afternoon, the back alley mural tour is sure to impress Kamloops locals and visitors alike. 

The Back Alley Art Gallery is a mural program run by The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association in collaboration with local artists and business owners. There's no common theme, so all the downtown murals are different.

New murals are being created all the time, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new additions to the collection.

We've compiled an easy-to-follow route that hits 27 murals in the downtown core, so you don't need to worry about getting lost. 

For a quick preview, check out the photos below. 

1. Italian City

Start your walking tour at the alleyway entrance off of 2 Avenue, behind 219 Victoria St. The Italian City Mural was painted by Ken Wells in 2012. 

2. The Jaguar Gate

Moving further down the alley you'll find The Jaguar Gate, a mural depicting Inca temple ruins that have become overgrown by the jungle. A lounging jaguar is the focus of the piece. The Jaguar Gate was painted by Alexx Moir-Porteous in 2017, according to Tourism Kamloops.

3. Shoe Window Display

This mural almost looks like a real store front, depicting a little shoe shop with a door and window display. Shoe Window Display was painted by Janice Gurney, year unknown, according to Tourism Kamloops.

4. Abstract

This colourful abstract mural lights up the wall of what used to be artist Tricia Selmer’s Gallery, according to Tourism Kamloops. Locally, Selmer's artwork is proudly displayed in the Brownstone Restaurant and at the Plaza Hotel. This mural predates the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, and the artist and year are unknown.

5. Lady and the Shoe

The little house inside a boot seems to pay homage to the old English nursery rhyme, about an old woman who lived in a shoe. Lady and the Shoe is located behind the Golden Buddha and also depicts a Bodhi Tree, according to Tourism Kamloops.

6. Italian Villa Courtyard

This is another European style mural that looks as if it's coming out of the wall. Take a long look at this one, as there are lots of little details you may not notice right away (for example, the winged bricks above baring the artists' names). The Italian Villa Courtyard was painted by Ken Wells and assistants in 2011.

7. No Parking

During the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association’s second Back Alley Block Party, the community was invited to throw water balloons filled with paint at the wall. Afterwards, the artist was able to use the colours of the splattered paint as fill for the beautiful grizzly bear, according to Tourism Kamloops. No Parking was painted by Kelly Wright and Jennilee Fraser in 2018.

8. Downtown Scene

This mural pays homage to all the things that make Kamloops unique, according to Tourism Kamloops. The piece represents the 200 block of Victoria Street, showing the street view you would see if the building was not here. Downtown Scene was painted by Ken Wells in 2010.

9. Urban Art

This wildly abstract mural also predates the mural program. According to Tourism Kamloops, two young men completed this mural around 2000. It showcases collaborative street art. If you look closely, you'll notice an Aztec-style temple, peaked mountains and a tribal mask amidst the graffiti.

10. Homage to the Leland

Cross 3 Avenue and continue along the back alley. You'll notice "Kamloops" emblazoned in neon letters at the entrance, which is the beginning of the Homage to the Leland mural. This mural marks the spot where the Leland Hotel stood from 1905 to 1980 when it burn down, according to Tourism Kamloops. Homage to the Leland was painted by Evan Christian in 2017.

11. The Winking Man 

The artist explores the human gaze as a form of wordless expression. According to the Downtown Kamloops Association, The Winking Man communicates a wisdom that comes from age and experience, while the facial posture of the man recounts a combination of both wisdom and glee. The Winking Man was painted by Zach Abbey and Nancy Kuchta in 2019.

12. Kuan Yin

Kuan Yin represents the building owner's interest in Buddhist culture, according to Tourism Kamloops. It was painted by Alex Moir-Porteus in 2011.

13. Music in Venice

According to Tourism Kamloops, the building and business owner’s faces are worked into the mural. Music in Venice was painted by Ken Wells in 2013.

14. Underwater Scene

This mural is truly multi-dimensional, spanning across the varied angles and textures of the building. According to Tourism Kamloops, this mural took six weeks to complete. Underwater Scene was painted by Kelly Wright in 2012.

15. Marilyn

These faces likely look familiar. Marilyn depicts blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe, one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s. According to Tourism Kamloops, this piece was done entirely using spray paint by Evan Christian in 2013.

16. Italian Countryside

This mural depicts a peaceful scene inspired by Kamloops' Italian community. According to Tourism Kamloops, owner of the shop Anthony Salituro provided the artist with photos of his home country to use as inspiration. Italian Countryside was painted by Ken Wells in 2012.

17. Wheel in the Sky

Although the name may not make sense at first glance, if you look closely you can pick out the Ferris wheel between the two buildings. The piece depicts a warm summer evening in 1920s Ireland, complete with a pub and classic carnival. The theme is inspired by the location of the mural, behind Irish Pub Carlos O'Bryans. Wheel in the Sky was painted by Alexx Moir-Porteous in 2016.

18. Saxophone Man

The building where you can find this mural is located beside The Commodore, which first opened in 1927. Saxophone Man is a nod to the music that has played in that venue for almost 100 years, according to Tourism Kamloops. It was painted by Zach Abney in 2018.

19. Moving Art

To find the next mural, walk down 4 Avenue towards Victoria Street. The next alley mural is located on the side wall of 167 4 Avenue. This mural's title is very literal. If you look closely, you'll notice a salmon on the steps in the mural that seems to have fallen out of the painting the people are carrying. Moving Art was painted by Ken Wells in 2015.

20. Alley Oasis

Next, you'll backtrack and cross back over 4 Avenue. On the side of Central Station Pub you'll see a tropical sunset scene that actually wraps around the side of the pub and continues under the patio around back. Alley Oasis was painted by Kelly Wright in 2013.

21. History of Brewing

Looking at the mural, you may be confused about the name. This piece on the side of Red Collar Brewing depicts Ninkasi, the Sumerian Goddess of Beer and Cerridwen, the Celtic Goddess of Barley. History of Brewing was painted by Kelly Wright in 2016.

22. Bee City

This mural depicts a long, bright and larger than life garden scene. According to Tourism Kamloops, Bee City was painted during the 2017 Spring Fest held at the Kami Inn parking lot by artists Alexx Moir-Porteous, Ken Wells, Evan Christian, Marianna Abutalipova and Kelly Wright. 

23. Running Dogs at Red Collar Brewing

Dogs are important at Red Collar Brewing, which gets its name from the owners' first family dog's distinctive red collar. Behind the brewery, you can see black dogs with red collars, in homage to the Beardsell family's dog. 

24. Faces

There are several faces depicted in this mural, including Louis Pasteur, the man who made pasteurization and the consumption of safe beer possible. Pasteur is flanked by a woman surrounded by lions, and what looks like Yoda from Star Wars. Faces was painted by Kelly Wright in 2016, according to Tourism Kamloops.

25. The Mystic

This tall narrow mural was designed to camouflage elements of the building within the art. Notice how the bird cage is incorporated into an actual window. The Mystic was painted by Ken Wells in 2017.

26. Artist Mid Creation

Once you exit the alley onto Lansdowne Street, walk towards 3 Avenue and turn left up that street. You will see the next alley on your right.

This mural adorned the back wall of the artist friendly café Art We Are and 4CATS Art Studio. Artist Mid Creation depicts an artist in her studio in the midst of creation. Artist Mid Creation was painted by Kyleen Cachelin in 2015.

27. Howling Wolf

Exit the alley onto 2 Avenue and walk up towards Victoria Street. You will notice a howling wolf's head painted on a small wall beside restaurant Pizza Pi. This piece was painted by Kelly Wright in 2019.

If you're comfortable navigating downtown Kamloops, you can check out the rest of the murals using this map provided by the Downtown Kamloops Association.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 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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