A blank beige wall in downtown New West has been transformed as part of a mural pilot project.
The city selected Randall Bear Barnetson from the city’s 2022 to 2024 artist roster to create a mural on the back wall of the Lower Mainland Purpose Society’s building on Alexander Street.
A news release from the City of New Westminster states the artwork, Salmon, emphasizes the importance of generosity, reciprocity, and taking care of our community, thus reflecting the work of Purpose Society, a regional non-profit agency that provides social, health and education programs.
“In our way, the one who gives the most salmon away is considered to be the wealthiest person. This is in contrast to the typical understanding of wealth as the accumulation of goods,” Barnetson said in a news release. “Our wealth is shown by sharing our abundance so that everyone in our community can live well.”
The city invites community members to celebrate the completion of the mural at an opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. It’s happening on Alexander Street, which is behind the Purpose Society (40 Begbie St.) and north of Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.)
Barnetson is a multidisciplinary artist of Indigenous heritage from the village of Nadleh Whut’en, the Dakelh Nation, and the Duntem’yoo Bear clan. His artistic practice uses Northwest Coast Indigenous art forms as a framework to interpret modern topics such as mental health and wellbeing, identity, culture, and spirituality.
“Barnetson’s work is a call to action to build a kinder and more supportive community where we can all thrive,” Mayor Patrick Johnstone said in the news release. “This work also adds some much-needed colour and visual interest to our urban environment, improving the livability of our downtown. We look forward to seeing more murals commissioned for the enjoyment of our residents and visitors.”
Commissioned by the city’s public art program, the mural is part of a pilot project that will explore ways to create more mural opportunities in New Westminster.
In an effort to reduce barriers and better support community organizations and artists, the city enlisted the help of the Vancouver Mural Festival, a Metro-Vancouver non-profit arts organization that specializes in the production of large-scale murals. VMF supported the artist selection process, concept development, and led the production and completion of the mural.