A new initiative in Beaumont was introduced by the Artist Association of Beaumont (AAB) to encourage the development of public art murals throughout the community. Support from the the Beaumont Community Grant program aided in the vision to make art readily accessible, visible, and part of the ongoing culture of Beaumont.
One project was recently completed that we call “Big Blue”. Big Blue, a large fence mural on the southwest corner of Bellevue School hill, was the inspiration of Laurel Aitken who took her time thinking about the message she wanted to share with her fence mural. “With my fence facing the school, I knew we wanted it to reflect something that children would enjoy and also the numerous dog walkers that travel the trail pathway beside the fence. Our fence is extra long, so we knew we wanted something that would be suitable for that length and that’s when the idea of a wiener dog came to be!” It perfectly fit the concept Laurel had in mind, with it being playful artwork that children and dog walkers alike could enjoy and reflect upon. Once the idea was conceived, Laurel and her mentor Christie Jedele (expertise with past experience in building murals) proceeded with the many hours of work, along with help from her family and Stacey Oswald. Altogether it took about 10 days of steady work, and Big Blue was born! The response from the neighbourhood has been so positive, with so many people stopping to comment and enjoy the progression and end result.
Future murals are possible with home owners submitting an application to the AAB. Applications will be reviewed for criteria like; will the location be readily visible to the public, ownership of the fence or other structure, and is there a concept and commitment to perform the work involved in building/painting the mural. Laurel says, “Ultimately the biggest factor is, whether the homeowner is going to put in the hours to make it happen!” Aid from the Community Grant Program kicks in to help with funding for materials and assistance from a mural expert to ensure the artwork stands the test of time and is successful!
So why is this public art important? Laurel indicated “Our mission at AAB is to promote art and culture and make it more accessible to the community and what is more accessible than public art and murals? You can see it as you drive to work or take a walk, you don’t even have to step into a gallery.” Christie Jedele who provided Laurel’s team with the mentorship for the process pointed out “I don’t think we have enough local artwork being displayed throughout Beaumont; I think that it is one key element that is missing from the community. This is a very cultural community and we need to see that side of it exposed.”
In the 2021 Strategic Plan for the Canadian Council of the Arts, it discusses the importance of art in our lives when it says, “Art comes from a hopeful place, and it forges and mends relationships even in a time of crisis. Words, music, the built environment, movement, images—artistic creation in all its forms inspires us to reflect on who we are and the world in which we live. Art entertains us, comforts us, and brings us together. Art nourishes our sense of belonging, strengthening our connections to the wider world, as well as to the many communities to which we belong—by origin, adoption, and aspiration. The power of art endures when everything else falls apart; art is an essential need.” Certainly sounds important to me.
Written by Betty Schriver, a local artist with the Artists’ Association of Beaumont