Nelson’s Cultural Development Commission has hired a local graphic designer to create a massive banner to hide a brownfield site next to the Nelson Daily News building at the west end of Baker Street.
Once the site of an Esso gas station, the vacant lot has been an eyesore and an ongoing source of frustration for Nelson’s cultural development officer Joy Barrett.
“It’s one of the first thing people see when they come into town,” Barrett said of the lot at the corner of Baker and Falls streets. “Every time I drive by it, I just cringe and think to myself, ‘I have to do something about that.”’
Part of the cultural development commission’s mandate is to secure funds for cultural initiatives, including public art. Barrett found sponsors to cover the full project budget of $8,000 without using a cent of city money.
Nichola Lytle of Pink Dog Designs was hired to create the image, which will be printed on a woven fabric called scrim that has grommets along the edges to attach it to the fence. The banner will be six feet tall and 200 feet long, and run from the side of the Nelson Daily News building’s parking lot along Baker Street and up Falls Street to Herridge Lane.
“It’s the biggest canvas I’ve ever worked on,” said Lytle, who’s been running her design and illustration business out of her Blewett home for the past 12 years.
The concept for the piece is four seasons in the downtown core. Each business along Baker, the cross streets and alleys are represented by an icon — there’s a lobster to symbolize the Fisherman’s Market and a bookshelf for Otter Books. There are dresses and skis, and latte art: all the things you can find downtown.
Some of the iconic heritage buildings are also represented. On each of the end of the banner are nature scenes, with the river on one side and the ski hill on the other.
“I wanted it to be like the city was emerging from the nature,” Lytle explained. “If people stop and look at the graphics, they’ll be able to pick out the different businesses, which is kind of fun.”
The banner is being printed this week and is expected to go up on the fence within the next two weeks. It will remain in place until the site is developed, at which point it could be moved to a different site.
Barrett pointed out that there are several brownfield sites around town, including one on Front Street near Safeway, another on Nelson Avenue and a third on Hall Mines Road.
“If people like [this banner] we could continue along the same vein to cover up the other lots around town,” Barrett said.
The funders for the project are: Imperial Oil, who owns the vacant lot; Nelson Daily News Partners, who own the building next door; Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism; and the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership.