British Columbia·Photo

'It's colourful and it's vibrant': More than 50 murals on display at Vancouver art festival

The festival marks the end of a week of painstaking work by dozens of artists in Vancouver. The city is set to celebrate with a number of parties and free public events.

This year's event adds more Indigenous artists

Vancouver's smoky skies are set to clear in time for the sun to illuminate dozens of bright, new murals across the city.

For the past week, artists have been working on their contributions to the second annual Vancouver Mural Festival, which features over 50 works in public spaces.

"It's not going to be everybody's taste in art," said Andrea Curtis, director of operations for the festival.

"But at the end of the day, it's colourful and it's vibrant and it's starting to change the big picture around our sense of identity in our neighbourhoods and our city."

Indigenous visibility

"Dance the Dance My Girl" is a massive mural by artists Irving Cano and Ari De La Mora. It features characters from an area in Mexico known for its Indigenous people and culture. The mural faces East Third Avenue just west of Main Street. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Organizers said they were able to improve upon the inaugural event by adding more Indigenous artists and focusing on adding character to spaces made for cyclists and pedestrians.

Curtis said the festival's high visibility is changing minds about Vancouver's "no-fun-city" reputation.

"People are starting to believe that statement less and less when they see big things happening in their neighbourhoods," she told Samantha Garvey, associate producer of CBC's The Early Edition.

Grafitti jam

A new addition to the festival is the Holden Courage Memorial Graffiti Jam. It will take place on a city-sanctioned graffiti "free-wall" in honour of a Vancouver-based graffiti artist who died of an accidental drug overdose in 2015.

A free wall is a place where artists can come to paint without fear of legal repercussions, given graffiti is not permitted in Vancouver.

The city was originally apprehensive to approve the free-wall, but eventually gave it the green light.

Curtis said the mother of the young man who passed away approached the festival to make the graffiti event happen.

"It's actually really exciting to see that coming together with this young man in mind and with the spirit of what his mom is bringing to the table," Curtis said.

It's one of many free events taking place in and around the Mount Pleasant and Main Street areas this weekend.

On Saturday, portions of Main Street between Seventh Avenue and 12th Avenue will be closed for a street party featuring live music by Yukon Blonde, Louise Burns and Carousel.

Participants can purchase festival tours on the event's website or follow the festival's map for a self-guided experience.

An artist painting the mural "Dance the Dance My Girl" near East Third Avenue and Main Street. The large size of many of these murals often means groups of artists contribute to the works. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
Surrounded by a wall of bare concrete "Abstraction" has turned an unfinished condo garage door into a colorful mural. It was painted by artist Andrew Tavukciyan and features abstract shapes, colours and patterns. It's located on Watson St. between Main and Kingsway. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
Artist Jenny Ritter displays her paint-covered hands. Using a palette of blues, the mural's imagery has a water theme. It's a community mural, so others can pitch in using a paint-by-numbers technique. It's located just north of East Fourth Avenue between Main Street. and Quebec Street. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
Artist Mega McGrath (pictured) at work on her piece "Heaven Only Knows," which depicts a quote from the musician K-OS. The mural is located in an alley between Main Street. and Quebec St, just south of 6th Ave. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
Artist Mega McGrath (pictured) at work on her piece "Heaven Only Knows", which depicts a quote from the musician K-OS. The quote relates to the question of the meaning of life. The mural is located in an alley between Main St. and Quebec St, just south of 6th Ave. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
"Luxurious Dreamscape Bubblebath" by David Ullock and Douglas Nhung transformed a bleak building into a stylized piece of art. It combines human form with abstract shapes and designs. It can be seen from Main Street just south of East 6th Avenue. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
Wrapped around a building on East Fourth Avenue, "Lady Mermaids" depicts four distict mermaid characters. It's the work of four woman; Lani Imre, Bronwyn Schuster, Amanda Smart and Tia Rambaran. (Peter Scobie/CBC)
This mural, entitled "Eagle Opens Up" is the work of Indigenous artists Paul Windsor and Jeska Slater. It can be seen just south of East Fifth Avenue near Main Street. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

With files from Samantha Garvey and CBC Radio One's The Early Edition