Over the next few months at Paradise Cinemas audiences will not help but notice the creation of two intricate murals by three lakecity artists on the lobby walls at the theatre.
Those three artists include muralists and best friends Sarah Sigurdson and Tiffany Jorgensen of Cariboo Artbeat and veteran lakecity muralist and jack-of-all trades artist Dwayne Davis. They were hired by the owner of Paradise Cinemas, David Hothi.
Hothi needs little introduction as, while he is now a part-time resident of Williams Lake, he’s been involved with the community for years and has either worked for or owned Williams Lake cinemas all his life, while his family has owned and operated it since 1977. Paradise Cinemas was built by the Hothi family themselves, he said, so it holds a special place in his heart.
Every five years Hothi said he does an evaluation of what the building is lacking or needs to have upgraded. This year, among other things, he determined they needed to add some character to the lobby and freshen up the place.
“The whole idea of it is that they’re going to stand out and be original and we’re hoping to, with our hashtag, create some interest outside of Williams Lake to come take a look and go see a movie,” Hothi said.
He chose to hire multiple muralists because he wanted there to be a different vision for each mural as every artist brings a different strength to a project. Sigurdson and Jorgensen, Hothi said, are taking one side of the lobby and painting a mural that will be an ode to cinema’s history while Davis will be painting a selection of portraits of movie villains on the opposite wall.
Hothi hopes that once completed, people will start taking pictures with the murals, like they do with the posters outside the theatre using #paradisecinemaswl. These murals are just the first phase of his new vision for Paradise Cinemas as over the next year or so people will see some changes to the auditoriums as well.
“We constantly need to change, you can’t stay the same. Small town theatres disappear and from my perspective is, a lot of it is no reinvestment in them. We’re very fortunate we have such strong support from the community for the theatre, and we always have, so we can continuously make it fresh for them and try to be current,” Hothi said.
The artists, for their part, were excited to begin on Monday, Feb. 3 as they shared ideas and their vision with one another. Jorgensen and Sigurdson are going first and will be painting until the beginning of March, while Davis will begin after them from March to April.
Jorgensen said when she heard about the opportunity she was incredibly excited and promptly called Sigurdson to brainstorm up a proposal and a “huge list” of movie characters and moments they wanted to include in their piece. After meeting Hothi and his family, the two got the job with the only additional request being to add a few more female characters in which they decided via a contest would be Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
The two of them have split up their confidential list of movie references and characters with each woman ranking their favourites from first to last and then making their way down to create the end product. Jorgensen said the mural will be filled with subtle references and they actually plan to hold a contest afterwards to see who can get them all first.
The base of the mural will consist of the Titanic, Jorgensen said, with various movie characters on its deck or in the waters around it, meshing various ideas together, similar to a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ style.
“It’s going to come across as characters are fans of each other. So if we didn’t choose a character we chose to include a reference on some other character’s T-Shirt. For example, Clint Eastwood is going to be wearing a Minions T-Shirt,” Jorgensen said.
She finds it amazing and an honour that she and Sigurdson received the nod for this project especially because it allows her to do her dream job, which is drawing things that she likes.
Sigurdson meanwhile also finds the project exciting for a lot of reasons as both she and Jorgensen have a lot of fun painting murals but also the fact that the movie theatre, in her eyes, is such a hub for the arts. In the movies, dozens of different types of artists come together including actors, writers, set designers, costumers and more to create a larger work of art, so she feels it’s a real honour to collaborate on a project like this that represents this dynamic art form.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting thing for people to come see, not only while we’re painting it to see what characters are emerging week after week but also after we’re done you’ll come back and see it time and time again and notice something different each time,” Sigurdson said. “We hope it brings back memories of the first time you were at the movies when you were a kid, or on your first date, things like that.”
When asked how many references will be included Sigurdson cagily remarked with a grin there will be less than 300 references but more than five. They will be posting constant updates to the Cariboo Art Beat Facebook page, however, and Sigurdson said she loves seeing people engage with this more approachable form of art. She invites anyone who has questions about the mural to message them on Facebook, as they love talking about it with people.
Davis, while he may not be starting for a few weeks yet, is already excited with the challenge. He’ll be painting five to six portraits of iconic movie villains from all ages of cinema, including the likes of the Joker and Darth Vader.
“The girls get the beauty and I get the beasts,” Davis joked.
He plans to do something that is quite visually different from Sigurdson and Jorgensen but still connected by the shared theme of celebrating influential cinema. Beyond the Joker and the number one villain of all time Darth Vader, Davis is keeping his shortlist of villains close to his chest until he posts his designs to his Facebook. Based on public feedback he hopes to be able to make a decision on who to include based on who gets the best reactions.
Due to the size of his wall, he feels that only six villains will work best and he plans to paint them in the style of a police lineup, reminiscent of the famous opening scene of The Usual Suspects. The idea is that people will be able to come in and pick the evilest villain of the bunch. All told he estimates the project will take him 15 days, start to finish, to complete.
“These kinds of projects where there’s more than just one artist involved are so much more fun, you get to come in and see all the different styles and everyone’s unique ideas,” Davis said.
All of the artists wanted to thank Hothi for the opportunity and space to bring the project to life.