As she was planning Nelson’s first annual International Mural Festival, Sydney Black told the Star, “It will be like Europe: beautiful old stone main street with hidden gems in the back alleys.”
And that’s how it turned out.
The festival opened on Aug. 17 with groups of people wandering the streets, chatting, meeting friends, and seeking out new murals that often appeared on unlikely surfaces.
Several artists from around the world had been in Nelson for many weeks prior, creating murals in a variety of locations around town, many of them in the alleys.
Black, who organized the event for the Nelson and District Arts Council, said the festival events were not as well attended as hoped because of the intense wildfire smoke.
“But somehow we still had people out to workshops and artist talks and almost 500 people out on opening night.”
Black said the visiting artists, including one from Australia and a couple from Miami, “loved the hometown feel. They are used to painting in big cities like Sydney and London and Miami.
“We took them out and showed them around, the building owners took them on tours, restaurants gave them gift certificates.”
Vancouver muralist Andrew Tavukciyan said, “I like the community aspect behind public art, getting people to stop in their tracks when they are walking their route to work. It brightens this alleyway, it’s the only colourful thing in this alleyway.”
His massive mural is located just off Kootenay Street in the alley between Baker and Vernon.
Black said one of the reasons for the festival’s success is that the murals are still there after the festival.
“It’s not just a temporary flash in the pan like the theatre stuff I usually do,” she said.
Michael Dailly, who was a city councillor at the time, agreed.
“People come to visit, and you can do your own mural tour any time.”
City council contributed $25,000 to the festival’s $90,000 budget, and later agreed to do the same for the 2019 festival for which the budget will be $120,000.