A green dumpster was the only colour found in one of Nelson’s many alleys before Andrew Tavukciyan arrived.
Now the same alley, located just off Kootenay Street between Baker and Vernon, is home to an eye-catching mural that is just the first of many now being painted around Nelson.
Tavukciyan’s piece is the first Nelson International Mural Festival project completed, and it’s what Nelson and District Arts Council executive director Sydney Black describes as a statement.
“This piece just is Andrew in a nutshell,” said Black. “If you go look at any of his work online, he’s just brilliant. So it’s amazing, it’s so exciting and colourful and vibrant and what we need. If you look at the other buildings in the alley, it’s just such a contrast. It’s a really exciting step that we’re making right now.”
Tavukciyan, a 24-year-old artist from Vancouver, started working on murals two years ago after realizing the scale of such projects provided a big, permanent stage for the artist.
“I like the community aspect behind public art, getting people to stop in their tracks when they are walking their route to work,” he said. “It brightens this alleyway, it’s the only colourful thing in this alleyway I guess now. It just helps with the vibe of the place.”
For his Nelson mural, Tavukciyan sketched out a design using the windows and bricks of the building’s wall as a grid system. The final piece took eight days and 96 hours to complete.
Eight murals are scheduled to be installed this summer in a partnership between the arts council and the City of Nelson. An additional two more have also be subcontracted by the arts council, with a festival planned for Aug. 17 to 19.
Tavukciyan’s mural is unique from the others in how it was chosen. The mural was sponsored by a youth grant through the BC Arts Council, and Tavukciyan was chosen by a jury of youth from the Nelson Youth Action Network and the Nelson and District Youth Centre who considered artists under 25 years old across Canada.
Tavukciyan did a workshop with the group who picked him to come to Nelson. “They got to ask him questions about his process and find out what it is to be a young, professional muralist in Canada, which is amazing,” said Black.