What used to be blank walls in a dark parking garage on Granville Island—save for one piece of commissioned artwork by Ola Volo last year—has turned into colourful and vibrant structures that will grab anyone’s attention.
10 murals were created as part of Granville Island’s new annual event, Art Smash, which celebrates visual art in public spaces. The pieces are located around The Chain & Forge (1404 Anderson Street)—a new public space underneath the Granville Street Bridge that will be home to outdoor programming, temporary structures, installations, pop-ups, and workshops.
At the heart of the new event this year is Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow’s paintings that are wrapped around two pillars of the bridge, which was inspired by Indigenous history and culture. “When you come to Granville Island, it will just be a beautiful reminder of the depth of the history here,” Sparrow told the Straight in an interview at the new public area. “We go back thousands and thousands of years, and we want Vancouver to celebrate that with us, not just 150 years.”
Other participating artists include Lauren Brevner, Kelsey Hall (KC Hall), James Harry, Sandeep Johal, Kari Kristensen, Eric Louie, Victoria Sieczka, and Jeremy Wong (JNASTY).
The creative minds had been working on their murals from May 1 to 9, and those who walked by were able to see the artists live in action.
The completed murals will be officially unveiled tomorrow (May 12) at the Art Smash Street Party Celebration (1 to 9 p.m.), which is a free public event that will feature live mural creation, music by local DJs, food trucks, B.C. craft breweries, and live dance performances.
“We think it will give a lot of opportunity for people to come down and celebrate the art and celebrate a new space on Granville Island that they can just enjoy and relax,” Scott Fraser, marketing and communications officer at Granville Island, said to the Straight in an interview under the Granville Street Bridge. “It’s the start of a new chapter of Granville Island. We’re looking to try new things and keep people engaged. It’ll be fun if you come in the afternoon with your family, or if you come with your friends in the evening.”
Art Smash has partnered up with the Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF)to produce this year’s event. In our opinion, it’s a great teaser for upcoming mural creations in the city.
“We wanted a full spectrum of style and backgrounds, and give everyone an opportunity to produce,” Drew Young, lead curator of the VMF and technical director for the mural program at Art Smash, told the Straight in an interview at the Chain & Forge. “This is the first round of us entering the summer murals. Most of these artists I’ve had my eyes on for a couple years now.”
Scroll through the photos below for a look at some of the new beautiful pieces at Granville Island.
The Greatful Heron by Lauren Brevner and James Harry
“Lauren and I have been collaborating on artworks for the last two years. We’ve been amalgamating our styles together and really trying to come up with something that is a balance of both of our styles and techniques. We’ve arrived in a place where we’re interweaving our culture backgrounds into our works,” Harry told the Straight in an interview with Brevner in front of his mural.
“We came to this wall and the shape of the wall reminded James of a long house. Traditionally, a long house is a place of gathering, sharing food and stories, so we wanted to use this space to tell a story from my background and put a Salish twist on it,” said Brevner.
Raise Your Words, Not Your Voice by Sandeep Johal
“Initially I thought this piece would be about woman using their voices to speak up and speak out and express themselves. But then the more I started working on the piece, it was more about taking up space,” Johal said to the Straight. “There’s just so much happening right now about women’s empowerment that I wanted to create pieces that felt empowering. I feel like it’s a blend of a lot of different cultures, and just different parts of it resonates with different people.”
Two Lions by Kari Kristensen
“My goal in creating the mural is to make it look like one of my prints. It’s my reaction to living on Canadian landscapes,” Kristensen told the Straight. “I wanted to do something special for Granville Island. Basically, it’s the view of the two lions from False Creek, where I live. It’s made to fit specifically in this wall.
“My entire series of work is this colour of blue, a deep indigo blue colour. It just reflects Vancouver for me. The sea, the sky, the rain, all of it is mixed in there for me.”
Tumble by Eric Louie
“I come from an abstract background, so I guess meanings come in informal shapes and how they interplay,” Louie explained to the Straight. “This latest body of work has a lot of still life qualities in them, so it allows it to have a space you can enter and bridge abstraction.
“It has a metallic quality to it. I wanted to interplay with light and put something bright in here. It [also] has an object-oriented aesthetic. They feel like leaves or something, and they’re not leaves, just random shapes.”
Loteria by Victoria Sieczka
“I was in Mexico for two weeks, and I found this old card game called Loteria. I found it was really interesting for me because it was very graphic and bright and colourful,” Sieczka told the Straight. “I got really inspired by the culture there, and I decided to call it Loteria—it means ice cream shop in Spanish.
“I’m really interested in graphic design and digital art, and I wanted to marry the two. I chose them [the objects] because they didn’t really go together. It’s supposed to be ambiguous in a sense, where you can’t derive a single meaning from the piece. It’s about semiotics, and my interest in symbols as language.”