We drive or walk by them every day without thinking, yet there is an interesting story behind each of the many pieces of art found on the streets of Sechelt. I had the good fortune to take part in a recent tour of downtown Sechelt, led by our Arts Coordinator, Siobhan Smith, and came away with a deeper sense of pride in my community.
These hydro boxes are a good example and a perfect place to begin. As part of the Sechelt Downtown revitalization plan, in 2008 the District of Sechelt commissioned artist Jan Poynter to decorate the unsightly, graffiti splattered hydro boxes.
The chosen theme was “Driftwood” and each of the three boxes depicts different phases of driftwood on the Sunshine Coast. The smallest of the three, located in front of The Dock on Cowrie Street, is titled Sandpiper Shadows and has a random texture of sandy greys and browns over all.
Further down the road, on Wharf Street is a larger box featuring the typical rounded “seastone” shoreline, with heavy stumps and driftwood jumbled along below the dark edge of the forest. The pale native beach grass and evergreen salal makes an appearance along with the ever present gulls, crows, an oystercatcher and even a shy black bear peering from the darkness.
In addition to Sechelt, there are now several painted boxes in other communities, including Gibsons, West Vancouver and the Village of Queen Charlotte.
Here’s another example of creating art on a “canvas” that is sometimes the subject of an angry can of spray paint. This mural is one of many by artist, Dean Schutz and can be found on Teredo Street at Inlet Avenue. The Sea Wall was jointly funded by the District of Sechelt and Pharmasave, and was painted during the 2004 Sechelt Family Arts Festival.
Gone Fishing, another very interesting trompe l’oeil painting by Schutz can be found on the wall of the Sechelt Insurance building at the intersectiion of Highway 101 and Wharf and has fooled many a passerby into thinking they may actually be able to rent a room inside.
Catch of the Day was painted by Gordon Halloran in 1997 and can be found on the Bank of Montreal building at the east end of Cowrie Street. Halloran is another Sunshine Coast artist with a huge international reputation, making his Olympic debut with a new art form, Paintings Below Zero at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and later at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when he created Ice Gate, a glacial wall 100′ long by 14′ high.
Catch of the Day, a 1997 Downtown Revitalization project was based upon an old photograph found in the community archives. Taken in 1912, it shows Captain Patrick O’Kelly standing with members of the Sechelt First Nation on the Sechelt wharf in Trail Bay – all holding their catch of salmon. This particular photograph had been commissioned by Sechelt pioneer entrepreneur Herbert Whitaker to be displayed at Canada House in England to attract tourists to the Sunshine Coast.
Here’s another example of a creative use of wall space that might otherwise become an target of unsightly graffiti, and in this case it was created by a trio of graffiti artists, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
After viewing Catch of the Day, walk down the alley behind the Bank of Montreal building, about a hundred metres, and you’ll find this impressive wrap-around mural on two sides of the 6 Gill Custom Tattoo building. The mural took about six days to finish and was done with acrylic spray paint by artists Jordi Ruiz, Nicole Steward and Severino Estevez.
Special thanks again to Siobhan Smith for her research and providing the information that gives meaning to the many pieces of street art in downtown Sechelt. If you’d like to read the first part in this series of Walking Tours of Public Art in Sechelt, follow this link
Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove