The latest downtown mural held its grand unveiling on Sept. 8 alongside the end of the Art Walk program.
Dwayne Davis, a local artist and muralist, has been the lead muralist of the mural project since its inception in 2000. He said that Art Walk and downtown mural projects originally started as private endeavours until the projects were eventually taken over and sponsored by the Williams Lake Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) and co-funded by the City of Williams Lake.
With the BIA in charge, Art Walk and the downtown mural project have become driving forces in their efforts to attract people to Williams Lake’s downtown core. After Arty the Artwalker, also known as Willie Dye, became involved, Davis said the project then blossomed into a true community event.
“I think we’re at around 18 or 19 murals now,” Davis said, adding that he’s worked on or painted all of them.
For this most recent mural, he was the facilitator and worked closely with another artist, Al-Lisa Tressiera-Mckay, who designed and did most of the painting.
“She had never painted a mural this size so my job really was to help her get through the mural,” Davis explained. “We worked through it and the piece turned out really good.”
Davis said he thinks both the Art Walk and the downtown murals as a whole are great ways to show the talent present in Williams Lake. In addition, he said, it provides a cultural spirit for the town that would otherwise be absent.
Next summer, Davis said he foresees BIA organizers being able to expand the Art Walk and the downtown murals project a little bit, through creating more murals and featuring more artists’ work in local businesses.
At the unveiling, Sugarcane Band Elder Mary Thomas of the Shuswap nation led a prayer to the Creator and a drum circle with representatives from the BIA in attendance.
Mckay then shared a few words about the mural and the process of bringing it to life, for which she extended a big thank you to Dwayne and his son Steven. The trio had their trials throughout the process but Mckay joked she was happy to have completed it right on the deadline day.
Originally based off one of her paintings, Mckay said she was impressed with how it evolved and grew through the collaborative effort.
“When you get different artists working together on a concept that comes from another artist, that art is going to change. It’s going to take on other energies and for this mural, it was a really beautiful combination,” Mckay said. “I am so pleased with how it turned out. It’s more beautiful than the original.”
The mural’s name is Backbone, and for Mckay represents femininity, representation and getting back to the natural world. This is all while honouring the First Nations and the spirits of this land; something that Mckay said was her key focus throughout the project.