Internationally celebrated muralists changing Kelowna's most criticized neighbourhood - InfoNews

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Internationally celebrated muralists changing Kelowna's most criticized neighbourhood

This Leonard Cohen portrait by Kevin Ledo covers a six storey wall in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
August 22, 2019 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - When Leonard Cohen died, a larger than life mural in his honour went up in Montreal and made headlines across the globe.

The nine-storey portrait of Cohen watching over one of the city's old neighbourhoods was completed by contemporary artist Kevin Ledo, who blends traditional and urban art to critical acclaim.

His work can bring life to a mundane urban landscape. Why that's relevant here and now is that Ledo is just one of the artists in Kelowna bringing artistic energy to Rutland.

Through the Uptown Rutland Business Association initiative, top tier artists including Ledo, artistic director David Doody, Jorden Doody, Jeremy Shantz, Taka Sudo, Sandeep Johal and some talented local students are bringing a little of the culture from La Belle Province and planting it in the Okanagan.

The Rutland project is based on the Festival Mural, which has been in Montreal for six years. It draws people from around the city to the Plateau neighbourhood that in recent years has become one of the city’s trendier areas, known for its artistic and foodie offerings.

David Doody has even been consulting with that festival’s founders to figure out how to roll out the event. In Montreal, the street becomes an urban art gallery and the aim is that one day Rutland will offer the same.

Kevin Ledo made the famed Leonard Cohen mural. Now he's in Kelowna transforming another space.
Kevin Ledo made the famed Leonard Cohen mural. Now he's in Kelowna transforming another space.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Uptown Mural Project

“All seven murals are quite different — no two are alike and the hope is that as we move into future years we’ll create a walking tour that will bring people through and around Rutland businesses,” he said.

Of course, Doody said, that’s in the distance. Kelowna isn’t going to offer the same things — it’s smaller and younger, as far as cities go.

That said, the paint hasn’t even dried on most of the murals and change is already afoot.

“It’s been really positive,” Doody said. “People are coming out and bringing cookies, giving high fives and hugs. There have been older people in wheelchairs and walkers coming out and saying it’s brightening neighbourhoods and young kids on scooters saying they like it.”

The diverse response isn’t totally unexpected. Public art has measurable rewards.

“It is a celebration for the individual,” Doody said. “It really sparks the imagination and opens conversation… people come together and make a home and place we want to be.”

Art, he said, gives people something to talk about.

The mural project kicked off mid-May with an “Evolution” colourful abstract piece on the windowless wall of 158 Valleyview Rd. at Highway 33.

Next up was Lions Park washrooms mural. That one is particularly special because artist Jorden Doody took a group of eight Rutland Senior Secondary art students and together they wrapped the old washrooms in a rainbow, stripe and daisy explosion of colour.

“The whole park glows,” David said.

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

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

There are some 30 walls in Rutland that could end up being painted, but this first phase is possible with funding of $55,000 from the Uptown Rutland Business Association, $12,000 from the Central Okanagan Foundation and $10,000 from the City of Kelowna.


“This year the focus is on the painted content, and we’re dedicating most of our budget for content that will be there all year round,” Doody said. “Next year may be more of a cultural event, with food trucks, DJs and music."

As a starter, there will be some celebration of the artwork. On Friday, Aug. 23 from noon to 6 p.m., there will be an artisan market at the mural near the Shepherd Road transit exchange. 

The second event is the art party, which is hosted by Kitsch Wines.

There, art lovers will be able to interact with the mural artists, imbibe and share great food.

Go to for that event, because tickets are limited.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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