Public art is blooming in downtown Quesnel. The latest artistic enhancement project is about finished, with a sunflower burst now shining out of the alley behind Paradise Salon & Spa. The Quesnel Mural Group ensemble of Maureen Wheeler, Keith Prestone, Leigh Cassidy and Terry Bordeleau brought this year-round garden to public view.
“Even though it’s at the back of a building, there is a lot of visibility from that back parking area,” said Prestone, with the main view available from McLean Street even though the storefront is on Reid Street, just north of Barlow Avenue.
It is a 10-foot by 50-foot wall on a building owned by Dr. Keith Corbett who is paying about half the cost for the mural. The City of Quesnel’s facade program is covering most of the other half.
The gaps in the middle of the financial plan were filled in by sponsors Four Rivers Co-Op, Quesnel Decor Centre, Quesnel & District Arts Council, Quesnel Community Foundation. The paint, primer, top-coat, brushes and other tools cost about $2,000, Prestone estimated, plus the wages for the artwork and organizing.
For the building owner and the entire local economy, there is a benefit. The presence of public art, whatever it might be, is a confirmed booster for tourists and local residents alike. Quesnel now has a noteworthy inventory of murals such as these.
“Part of the reason we formed the group, Maureen leading that, was seeing more of that happening,” said Prestone.
It’s not such a problem in Quesnel, at least yet, but if anyone doubts the positive impact of a mural, watch the backlash when a (usually new) building owner decides to subtract someone’s hard work years later.
“I’ve seen some murals that I’ve really, really enjoyed, that have been painted over or sided over,” Prestone said. “It’s heartbreaking, but that does happen sometimes. I think this one is more or less permanent.” His reasoning is supported by talks already underway to continue painting around to the next wall of the same building, which is in need of a new paint job anyway, in conjunction with a photo montage proposed with the museum for another wall of that building.
“We hope that will help spruce up the downtown even more, and make that even more of a permanent installation.”
The Quesnel Mural Group is already focused on their next project, which will be for the Quesnel Tillicum Society & Friendship Centre on the west side of the city.