“Let’s go down there. There may be some graffiti,” I said to my friend. We turned the corner and entered the alley. Immediately the wafting stench of urine hit our nostrils. “Oh wow, look at these murals!” We hit the jackpot of Vancouver street art off Cordova Street.
Laura and I had discovered the joys street art in Toronto a few weeks earlier. My travels took me to Vancouver for work and I was exploring the city with a work colleague – who had long ago become used to my crazy ideas. Going down a deserted alley filled with mountains of trash, overflowing dumpsters, and unpleasant smells wasn’t his idea of a good time.
By the end of that alley, I’d totally changed his mind and he had begun to appreciate the public murals of street art in Vancouver. These beautiful creations outside the mainstream of society offer beauty and commentary of the social scene. Whether you call it “street art” or “public murals” or “graffiti” – you can’t deny the talents of the local artists and the beauty of the projects.
On returning home and researching the Vancouver murals, I learned the city actually operates a program called the Creative Cultural Collaborations Society to document these graffiti murals and have developed several different walking tours (complete with cell phone narration!). If only I’d known about that before I went to Vancouver! I was particularly captivated by the native/Inuit murals.
In recent years, the city has embraced the urban arts and holds a mural festival in the city, which creates truly large-scale works throughout the city. The festival has a particular focus on indigenous artists, which brings further native/first nations themes to the city streets and parking lots.
If you visit Vancouver, put on your good shoes, don’t step in any strange puddles and bring your camera – you’re in for some amazing art!