Following the success of the Colours of Nelson’s debut project under the Orange Bridge, artist mentor and organizer Amber Santos is suggesting the City support more public art projects.
Santos made a presentation at Monday night’s committee of the whole highlighting the values of the project such as collaboration, fostering creativity and providing an outlet for local artists.
“I would say the success of that project does leave people feeling positive and hopeful about the possibility of more such projects,” she said following the meeting.
The painting of the cement walls under the west side of the bridge began in May in collaboration with the Nelson Police Department, Rotary Daybreak Club and area artists.
Four artist mentors including Santos and Bryn Stevenson worked with a total of 16 artists ranging from high school students to Kootenay School of the Arts students and members of the community to design, sketch and paint the mural.
“I believe dialogue really is a catalyst for good projects,” said Santos. “You will discover after talking to a lot of people that we are really on the same page about a lot of things around public art, but we need to talk about it and not be afraid.”
Following the positive response to the project, Santos pitched several new ideas to continue the work of Colours of Nelson in the community.
Santos has worked in mural and graffiti art internationally and highlighted several examples where street art is incorporated into the community with walking tours and urban arts festivals.
“I think [the bridge project] is a snapshot and I think there is much more of what could be and colours and themes. In the mind of an artist it is limitless,” she said.
Another idea Santos would like to see implemented in Nelson is a legal wall — a designated free space for artists to go and create work.
“I would say that when a person has the impulse to put the art out in the public space, they are coming from a place of really wanting to express themselves,” said Santos about graffiti and tagging.
“They’re sharing their work by putting it on a public space and by allowing people to do it and legalizing it gives them time to really work on it.”
While it is a hope that the creation of a legal wall might remove some tagging from private spaces, Santos said it is not likely the idea will do so completely.
“I don’t know all of the people who are tagging and what their reasons are behind it, but I think a lot of the tags are gestures of creativity that could be developed,” she said. “I don’t want it to be looked at [only] as a solution to tagging. I see it more as a way of developing and expanding the public art scene here in Nelson as well.”