Chemainus set to unveil three new murals

The Chemainus Festival of Murals Society and Anthem Properties are unveiling the works inspired by the work of artist Emily Carr

Chemainus is getting three new murals.

The Chemainus Festival of Murals Society and Anthem Properties are unveiling the works, which are inspired by the work of renowned Vancouver Island artist, Emily Carr, on Saturday, Aug. 20.

These murals are located in the lane between Utopia Bakery and Bonnie Martin Eats.

The festivities, starting at 11 a.m., include a chance to see a puppet show for young and old called Whimsy’s Quest for an Identity in her Community, meet an Emily Carr lookalike and hear her stories, have your picture taken with a friendly Mountie or take a paint brush and put on a painter’s hat and pretend you’re painting a mural yourself for a photo. You can also listen to some jazz piano by Larry Blatchford, and take part in a Name That Mural contest to win a Tofino escape, courtesy of Chemainus Best Western Plus.

The naming contests involve the mural on display at the hotel, which was commissioned for the back wall in Small Tall Treats. However, that store changed owners and the painting can now be found at the hotel’s meeting room.

Tom Andrews, president of Chemainus Festival of Murals Society, said on Aug. 10 that the group is looking forward to adding to the Emily Carr series.

The murals are not simple copies of the works of that famous artist, though.

A rendering of an original painting is “incorporated into the mural. The mural artist was given the freedom to create something around [the copy of the Emily Carr painting], incorporate it into a larger mural.”

The new murals will be located on the back of the Anthem Properties building.

“Part of the Chemainus Revitalization program was to revitalize that alley and they put in a large planter with trees, flowers, and a bench. And Anthem Properties wanted to contribute to that revitalization and have some artwork installed on their building,” Andrews said.

Two of the paintings were done by Cim MacDonald, a local artist and curator of the Festival of Murals; the other one is by Mario Labonte, a Victoria mural artist.

“We went out to six or seven different artists and then the board reviewed their submissions before deciding,” Andrews said.

“We think the Emily Carr theme is a good idea. We will be continuing with our other historical series of murals but we thought this time we’d add to the Emily Carr series. We already have murals in two locations, on the side of the Chemainus Theatre, where five paintings are incorporated into it and at the front of the Longhouse in Waterwheel Square, there are two more. Now, we’re adding three more.

That will mean a total of 10 copies of Emily Carr paintings displayed in an outdoor gallery.

“We think she’s probably Canada’s most famous female artist and she has been in Chemainus. One of the paintings that’s being incorporated into one of the new murals is called Chemainus Bay,” Andrews said.

On Aug. 20, the murals will be unveiled at noon. The bigger festival in celebration starts at 11:30 a.m. and will go on until 2 p.m.

Major funding for the murals came through Anthem Properties; the rest of the money was raised by the Festival of Murals Society through sales of merchandise, and a BC Gaming grant, according to Andrews.

Original artist back to restore original mural

Another Festival of Murals event, from Aug. 17-23, sees the Society welcome one of the original artists to restore one of the murals. Arthur Cheng, who lives in Vancouver, is being funded by the Society to work his magic on Memories of a Chinese Boy.

The mural is located on the south wall of Wing’s Cafe on Chemainus Road.

Born in Nanchang, China, Cheng Shu Ren (Arthur) established his reputation as an outstanding artist in Beijing. His versatile works include extensive garden and park designs in Shanghai. His bronze and marble sculptures and monuments have won him many awards from the Shanghai Arts Festival. He came to Canada in 1990.

His submission for Memories of a Chinese Boy was chosen from among 14 in a competition sponsored by the Canadian Chinese Artists Federation, and he became the first Chinese artist to enhance the walls of Chemainus.

His daughter, Chen Ying, assisted him in painting Memories Of A Chinese Boy, which they completed in just 14 days. He also created the statue of H.R. McMillan in Waterwheel Park, and returned in 2005 to paint Star Novelty Works.

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