Large-scale mural adds splash of colour to downtown architecture

Vibrant and bold murals contribute to the neighbourhood to be celebrated by locals and tourists alike

Downtown Kelowna just got a bit more colourful.

Students from UBC Okanagan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program are once again working to create a mural in downtown Kelowna. Last summer, 18 students enrolled in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies  upper-level visual arts course to create a mural on the outside of the CTQ building on St. Paul Street. And they are doing it again, right around the corner from that location.

This year 10 students are working again with instructor David Doody and his partner, UBCO teaching assistant Jorden Doody to create a new mural at 1358 St. Paul Street.

While working out at the YMCA, Jorden would see this wall and noted how dreary it looked. She searched out the building owners and called them to propose a way to liven the space up.

“Jorden explained how grim the view was from the community gym and how we could transform it from an empty grey vacancy into a colorful window of imagination,” says David.

During the academic course, that started in early July and runs to mid-August, students are led through the necessary steps to plan, pitch and paint a public mural. Students will gain experience with projectors, mechanical lifts and a variety of paint applications and techniques common to large-scale artwork.

Murals have been recently popping up all over Kelowna — painted by many different artists including other UBC Okanagan alumni, explains David. Mural art revitalizes an urban landscape while supporting and improving the cultural, social and economic vitality of the local community.

“By creating exciting and energetic works of public art, we are transforming our communities into dynamic open-air art galleries,” he adds.

With this mural they hope to build a strong connection to the importance and fragility of the region’s local ecosystems. A Blue Heron is the central character, and David describe the heron as an ancient and beautiful bird that survives and thrives only when there are healthy fish stocks.

“By including the iconic beauty of our picturesque valley as the mural’s backdrop we hope to remind viewers that we are all living in a natural work of art,” he says. “With this design we hope to pay homage and respect to the land and those who came before us.”

The mural projects are also important partnerships for UBC Okanagan and the community notes Creative Studies Department Head Denise Kenney.

She explains there are number of partnerships underway including one with Sunbelt Rentals. The company has donated the use of the lifts and safety training for all students for the duration of the course, something that is valued at more than $15,000. Meanwhile, CTQ consultants Ltd. has contributed a cash donation to purchase equipment and paint. And Dulux Kelowna and Golden Artist Colours NYC are partnering to support paint costs. Kenney estimates the overall value of donations to the project is roughly $45k to the community.

“We are always interested in continuing to build opportunities for public art projects as learning and enriching experiences for our students under the mentorship of a faculty member to do these projects,” Kenney adds.

After having the opportunity to support the first ever mural class in 2020, CTQ was inspired to keep the community momentum moving forward by once again donating to the course this year. The entire CTQ team are enthusiastic about the location of this year’s mural as it is just down the street from the original one created last summer, says Matt Cameron, CTQ founding partner.

“At CTQ, we hope to instill and encourage our community neighbours and fellow business people to carry on this legacy by supporting the UBCO Creative and Critical Studies faculty financially, thus continuing the flow of Mural art throughout the downtown core and beyond,” Cameron adds.

The mural was completed at the end of classes on August 12, and a special event to celebrate the mural is planned for August 17.

David Doody is currently a lecturer in the Visual Arts program, and a BFA alumni from 2008. Jorden Doody is also a BFA alumni from 2008, and recently completed her Master’s of Fine Arts at UBC Okanagan. Together they run Fresh West Official and coordinate the Uptown Mural Project in Rutland.


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