Vacant storefront windows on Baker Street will be getting a much needed makeover as a group of community partners prepares to unveil its art in store front windows project.
“The idea actually first came from Mayor John Dooley,” said cultural development officer Joy Barrett. “He had been walking down Baker Street and saw that so many of the stores were closed. It looked really bad both to locals and to tourists. It presents a poor image of what’s happening economically.”
She said that a group began looking into what could be done and saw that other cities had been facing a similar problem, particularly in the United States where they were facing a significant economic decline.
“What some cities did was an art in storefront windows program or a storefront revitalization program, and we thought that would be a great idea for Nelson,” said Barrett.
The project has been embraced not only by the city but also by the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, the Nelson Economic Development Partnership, the Nelson and District Credit Union, Nelson/Kootenay Lake Tourism Association and the Nelson Business Association.
Barrett said the project’s tight budget caused them to look at some creative approaches to the windows.
“At first we thought we might just put artists’ work in the windows and leave it at that, but it’s a bit difficult to do that because you have to deal with insuring the artists’ work,” said Barrett.
The first installation of the project is in the windows of what used to be Hazeldean.
“I approached Deborah Loxam-Kohl, who used to do installations at Touchstones, and we thought we’d do a couple of things. With one of the windows she’s going to highlight local interests of the area from Nelson up to and including Kaslo. In the other side of the window she is going to showcase the CPR station using models and show the work that we are doing there,” said Barrett.
The windows of the former Redfish Grill will also get a revamp with the installation of an historical photo.
“We had to come at the Redfish Grill from a whole different perspective. Because the inside of the building is burned out we can’t access it from the inside, so we have to put something up from the outside,” she said.
Barrett said they will be putting up plywood in front of the burned out windows.
“On top of the plywood we are going to put a vinyl wrap of an historical Nelson photo of horses racing down Baker Street. It will be 10 feet tall so it’s going to look really cool,” she said.
Loxam-Kohl has also done stylized versions of a “For Lease” or “For Rent” sign to decrease the hodgepodge of hardware store signs that appear on Baker Street.
Even though the project is exciting, Barrett is hoping that if the economy is booming the need for art in storefront windows will decrease.
“But in the meantime we want the downtown to look beautiful both for locals and for tourists.”