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Public art lends a splash of colour to Mission and Abbotsford

Public art makes a community more colourful, and gives the public something to talk about and a reference point by which to relate to each other.

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By Alex Rake (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 29, 2014

Public art makes a community more colourful, and gives the public something to talk about and a reference point by which to relate to each other. Mission and Abbotsford have both established policies related to supporting public art and raising cultural awareness in their communities. This has made it so that it is impossible today to walk through the major downtown areas in either city and not come across some work of public art. Here are a few examples.


Images: Alex Rake

Images: Alex Rake

First Nations/Christian mural

This mural depicts the mixing of First Nations and Christian culture. The figures of the spirit in the sky, the crucifixion on the rock, and the men in the canoe are sort of incongruously set opposite each other, but in a way that makes the work more interesting, rather than unreadable. Framed by painted totem poles, this is one of the more enigmatic works on Railway Avenue. Unfortunately, this one is obscured by a wire fence and a dumpster. Perhaps this is an (unintentional) statement in itself?


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“Rights of Passage” mural

This mural on Railway Avenue, just outside of Station X, commemorates the Japanese citizens of Canada whom the government sent to internment camps during World War II. The art itself shows the pain this movement caused many Canadian citizens, including many from Mission; the tense way the Japanese girl holds the Canadian flag speaks to the trust betrayed by those in power at the time. The wall that the mural is painted on is becoming mouldy, which on one hand gives the work a rightfully eerie feeling, but on the other indicates an unfortunate lack of upkeep. An interpretation of the work and credits hang beside the mural, and also seem to be peeling off.


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Alleyway mural

What a delightful mystery! I discovered this mural taking a shortcut though the wide alley between Railway and First Avenue. It’s a picture of downtown Mission in earlier days. The colour gives it a bright, nostalgic feeling, and removes any drabness usually associated with alleys. I was unable to find any information associated with the origins of this one, but it just goes to show there are surprises everywhere; all you need to do is leave your house once in a while.


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Roundabout First Nations sculpture

The sculpture that towers over the McCallum roundabout in Abbotsford was created by Ralph Silver in 2011 as part of Abbotsford’s newly established public art policy. Despite the controversy that surrounded the piece at the time of its creation, the work remains an impressive fixture in Abbotsford. The structure is clever; at least one circle of the work can be seen from any angle in the roundabout.


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“Three Men Telling Tales” bench

I love these guys! Though not the only wonderful piece of bench art in Downtown Abbotsford, this farmer, railway man, and logger have something special about them. They sit a couple strides away from Hemingway’s book store, their bright colours making up for the usual rainy grey that covers the valley. Sometimes I mistake them for real men out of the corner of my eye, and it is a spooky experience to say the least. They were created by Vladimir Chved. The Bench Art Project for Downtown Abbotsford has been going on since 1998.


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Mission’s heritage mural

This mural was revealed June 15 of this year on the side of Mission’s community archives building on Second Avenue. Painted by Dean Lauzé for the city’s 120th anniversary, the mural depicts several aspects of Mission’s heritage and culture, including Hatzic Rock and the soapbox derby. The Mission museum is located right beside it, so the theme of the work fits its setting nicely.


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“Rise” mural

This mural popped up recently in the back parking lot of Eleni’s restaurant on Railway Avenue. It features several notable people from Mission doing their thing on a natural backdrop. Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen dances with what appears to be Raven in the centre. The word “RISE” heads the picture, so it seems that this is meant to inspire the people of Mission to get famous, too. Choice of central figure aside, the way the water spills out of the mural is pretty cool.

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