This isn't just another mural project in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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This isn't just another mural project in Kelowna

This is the Salmon mural that got the app project started.
Image Credit: Submitted/AZ@ctq
March 29, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Murals are ubiquitous in cities around the world so it’s to be expected that many cities in the Okanagan as well as Kamloops have online guides to their local treasures.

But a Kelowna engineering firm has gone one step further by helping to inspire the country’s first university-level mural painting course and trying to create a mural legacy to build momentum for the art form.

Plus, the firm’s graphic information system specialist Dianne Gray turned a “passion project” of finding other murals in the city into an app that not only shows where to find the murals but gives background and artist information.

“In our back parking lot we have this huge brown wall that’s not very inviting,” Matt Cameron, founding partner of CTQ Consultants Ltd., told iNFOnews.ca. “It’s something we had been talking about painting over the years.”

Rather than just hiring an artist to paint some picture on that wall, in 2019 Cameron touched base with his contacts at UBC Okanagan. Not only has his company worked on the campus since 1994 as an engineering firm but it also has an endowment program with its engineering department.

“We really do believe in giving back to the community and, also, helping students through their learning process,” he said. “We just thought it was a great opportunity to do something more than just painting a wall.”

He was put in contact with David Doody in the Creative and Critical Studies department who was so excited that he created the country’s first university mural painting course.

While Doody designed the Salmon mural that now graces the wall behind CTQ’s office at 1334 St. Paul St. in downtown Kelowna, 18 artistic students got to develop their skills by painting it during COVID.

It was finished last summer and served the extra purpose of getting the students certified to operate scissor lifts needed for the project.

“It turned out so well, we wanted to try to make a legacy project of this,” Cameron said. “Hence, when I was talking to Dianne about it and, with her GIS experience, what we could do regarding mapping murals, it morphed into something.”

That something turned into the Kelowna Mural Map documenting 66 murals that date back to 1985, although most have been painted since 2000.

Gray started off doing online research, contacting local businesses and just driving around the city. Most of the photos on the app she took herself.

This is the oldest mural in Kelowna at the OK Corral
This is the oldest mural in Kelowna at the OK Corral
Image Credit: Submitted/DG@CTQ

One accidental find was the 1985 OK Corral mural. As far as she knows, it’s the oldest in the city.

She discovered that it was painted by Gary Swarovski on what was, at that time, Wranglers Steak House that was connected to the OK Corral cabaret.

While she’s partial to the vibrant colours of the company-commissioned Salmon mural, one of her favourites is Ogopogo and Friends.

One of Gray's favourites is Ogopogo and Friends.
One of Gray's favourites is Ogopogo and Friends.
Image Credit: Submitted/DG@CTQ

“It contains really cartoony images of creatures of different species," Gray said. “It’s quite a curiosity but it’s definitely one of my favourites.”

It was painted by Mono Sourcil in 2019 and is at the back of a parking lot at 255 Rutland Rd. N.

There are a wide variety of painters from Kelowna and as far away as Montreal. Some have painted more than one in the city.

Some do duty as tattoo artists for their day jobs or as graffiti artists. Because such artists honour each other’s work, there is rarely any vandalism of murals.

Another favourite is Batman at 236 Leon Ave., painted by Def3 & Craver in 2015.
Another favourite is Batman at 236 Leon Ave., painted by Def3 & Craver in 2015.
Image Credit: Submitted/DG@CTQ

“One thing that really surprised me when I did all the research is just how many different styles of murals there are,” Gray said. “When I was younger, I was always under the impression that murals were always kind of more realistic-type depictions.”

Of course, Kelowna is not unique in having murals, although its collection is larger than other cities in the region.

Kamloops has more than 30 that are highlighted on Tourism Kamloops’s Back Alley Art Gallery web page.

Many of Vernon's murals are historical works. This was painted in 1999
Many of Vernon's murals are historical works. This was painted in 1999
Image Credit: Submitted/Tourism Vernon

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

Downtown Vernon Mural Tour highlights 29 in that city.

Kamloops murals are often quite fanciful. This one is Artist Mid Creation by Kyleen Cachelin, painted in 2015 at 250 Victoria St.
Kamloops murals are often quite fanciful. This one is Artist Mid Creation by Kyleen Cachelin, painted in 2015 at 250 Victoria St.
Image Credit: Submitted/Tourism Kamloops

Blogger Andrea Peacock’s Penticton’s Most Instagram-Worthy Murals shows 22 in the Peach City.

Back in Kelowna, Cameron is partial to his Salmon mural, in part because it’s connected to an award winning project that is one of the highlights of his career for work he did to protect salmon at Harrison Hot Springs.

That town pumps water from the Miami River into Harrison Lake to prevent flooding each year but there was a 100 per cent mortality rate for those salmon that went past the screens and into the pumps.

Cameron installed a “screw pump” first designed by Archimedes in 250 B.C. The only change he made was to add an electric motor.

“You can see the screw pump in the background of the mural,” he noted.

In order to advance the mural legacy project, he’s working with UBCO to partially fund another project this year. Details on where that will be and how a legacy project will unfold are still being determined.

“It’s quite a neat thing that’s happened and it’s certainly making a lot of these alleyways and other parts of the city a lot more vibrant,” Cameron said.

He’s also looking to get other businesses on board to beautify the city since murals, at $20,000 to $25,000 each, are not cheap. Anyone interested can email him at mcameron@ctqconsultants.ca.

Gray is asking people to contact her about any new murals and to add or correct information on the app. There are links on the Kelowna Mural Map.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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