Street art in Valparariso, Chile. Bill Metcalfe photo

LETTER: We can do better than grey

From reader Chris Shepherd

Re: “Blue Painting beautifying Baker Street” (May 31)

I was torn when I read about Bill Lelievre painting over graffiti above Baker Street. I was torn because I appreciate his desire to have Nelson look good and I appreciate his donation of time and money to the cause, but I question whether his solution, a drab grey, qualifies as beautiful as suggested by the story’s headline.

Is that really how we want to define beauty for our downtown? Grey?

I think there’s a balance to be struck between the shoddy graffiti that sprouts up like weeds in any city and the boring, blank surfaces that attract that same graffiti.

That’s something else to consider. Lelievre has created a blank canvas for the next set of vandals and I doubt he has the time, resources or desire to keep painting over graffiti.

Rather than let business owners donate their time and money, I think the City of Nelson needs to be proactive and work with building owners to bring murals to the blank surfaces of our downtown.

There are successful examples of such art already. Look at the back of the old Kootenay Co-op. A mural there looks much the same as it did when it was put up nine years ago. The Red Light restaurant in Herridge Lane and the huge mural under the Nelson Bridge are other great examples of making drab surfaces beautiful.

I fear Nelson has put so much stock in our reputation as a historic community we’re not allowing any growth or experimentation. I’m also aware this is not a new fear. When I moved here 10 years ago I heard that same comment from people more experienced than I and I’ve come to agree with the sentiment.

If you’re having a hard time imaging how street art and historic buildings can co-exist, try Googling “street murals in Europe.” The results turn up a wealth of art in Europe’s cities that bring a vibrancy and vitality that I think Nelson is capable of reproducing.

For a community that also prides itself on its artistic credentials, I think we can do better than grey.

Chris Shepherd