Feature Story                                                     Monday June 13, 2016

 

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Community gets behind Wall project and its symbolic art

Sherry Dunn, Abbotsford

 

Caring people will be showing their love for those less fortunate in other countries in a trek on June 18.

 

t was a monsoon a few times during the day but on Friday, May 27th, 2016 a small, dedicated group of volunteers braved the elements to help add the "ads" in the form of green QR code vinyl stickers to the "Our Wall" mural public art project which showcase the different aspects of the celebratory and memorial sections with the many of the digital connections that exist in the currently painted wall and the designs soon to come. 

Mila Djordjvik, a student currently enrolled in S.F.U., is the past Art Club Leader and District Scholarship winner for the "Our Wall" project. She returned to the wall and presented a large vinyl banner of Cheryl McCormack's memorial section of "Our Wall" to Cheryl's family and the family placed a memorial dedication and a QR code that links the mural to the on-line video that the family did in cooperation with the police and another family who also lost their child to "E". 

 

Cheryl's mom, Cathy McCormack will invite her daughter's friends and family to write a dedication in Cheryl's memory on the back of the large "Our Wall" art poster and the family has plans to hang it in the cabin where Cheryl vacationed with her family. The deer featured in the memorial is symbolic of the island vacations that the family took. 

 

The family noted the small island deer frequently and we like the "dear" connections with picking a deer as a symbol for Cheryl, because she was "dear" to many people. The affection and love expressed by the family, friends, the school staff and students who came together and celebrated Cheryl's life lost too soon with a scholarship in her memory also cooperated in creating a beautiful part in a neighborhood improvement plan. 

 

The waterfall above the deer in the mural symbolizes Cheryl's attendance at a school famous for it's indoor waterfall and a second deer is seen enjoying the morning glory that grows by the wall. This deer was observed at the wall soon after the family chose this symbol for Cheryl and incorporating this photograph of a deer visiting the wall into the painting seemed to make sense in the design for Cheryl; two deer = too dear. 

Cathy, Cheryl McCormack's mother and her great-niece in hand, and her niece Leanne (another art and photography alumna) were in attendance along with Cheryl's aunt and uncle, Joy and Dave. Dave helped Cathy place the vinyl stickers that proclaim the two deer and the waterfall in the 1 meter by 2 meter section as part of Cheryl's memorial.

Chelsea and Ansley - two other "Art Tribe" alumnae, were also in attendance to dedicate a future memorial on "Our Wall" to a loved one lost too soon with adding a QR code linking their mother to this story. Their mother was Christine Caldwell, a PAC President, an Abbotsford Art Council President and a City of Abbotsford Counsellor who died of cancer, another life lost too soon. The city lost an amazing arts advocate but the family has dedicated a memorial scholarship for an Art student so that their mother's helping spirit lives on.

 

There is also an Abbotsford Arts Council Artie award in Christine's name as well. Chelsea Caldwell is a graphic artist from the Chilliwack Progress who is currently re-designing a section of "Our Wall" to include Mikayla Gravelle's recent national winning art entry along with Marisa Baldini's memorial (designed by Amanda Merriman) and Christine's memorial. Sage Bullock's photo of a butterfly and Nichele Martin's painting of a ladybug will also flow together with these designs.

 

Christine's family has chosen a dragonfly in a flower garden to symbolize her. The dragonfly is an auspicious insect which is already showcased in the center of the "Our Wall" mural in the reproduction of Sora Yoon's national winning entry in the Get to Know Your Wild Neighbours art calendar contest. Look forward to sharing Chelsea's re-design with everyone soon. Hope many people will consider assisting in the cutting of the large (one meter by one meter) plastic stencils that are made to create (and re-create) the mural and would encourage everyone to also consider participating in the next "Paint Day" for this community public art project. Anyone who is interested in participating in community art evenings or future paint days, please email here.

Crystal Frison, from "Paintings by Crystal" a window art and mural company, is an Advanced Placement Studio Art student alumna and a past leadership student and she was again an amazing helper for the day's events and stuck it out through the intermittent rain showers along with Sue Federspiel, Sherry Dunn and Diane Longpre for the afternoon. Crystal's and Jeff's huge umbrella was much appreciated and well used. Diane Longpre is a retired high school counsellor and she came out for the afternoon as well.

 

It was really appreciated that she represented the school district. She helped greatly with warm drinks to take the chill off the morning. Diane assisted with the work with the QR code unveiling too. Cheryl's mom, Cathy, also supplied the crew with coffee and sweets after the job of cleaning the wall and placing the QR posters was finished for the day.


Alay with babe in arms, a neighbour's friend and photographer, snapped lots of photos of the morning dedications and Tim, another neighbour helped out with a ladder transport in order to get the highest QR code posters up on the wall. Brent, dad of two former art students also came out prepared with his umbrella and helped clean the mural to prep the wall to accept the codes. Chantelle from Allegra Printing was greatly appreciated for the speed and professional quality service in printing our QR code posters and we will look forward to seeing how the stickers survive the elements in the next few years.

The road closure crew of city workers kept everyone safe with a 1/2 road closure, the drivers were happier this year with access through Laburnam Avenue but with another Paint Day soon to come, the road will be entirely closed again for everyone's safety in this larger event. Appreciate Dave Stephens, Manager for Communications for SD#34 for notifying the local schools of the road closure was well. The project started at 11 and the road closure was over by 2 so the impacts were minimal to the school traffic.

The city's Community Developer, Sue Federspiel, is a truly dedicated facilitator getting this neighbourhood project accomplished who had just recouped from an illness but had just enough energy to help get the majority of the Phase II QR codes up on the wall. Sue had safety vests for everyone thanks to Alana (also from the city).

 

Sue was the person behind the scenes organizing all the permissions and plans in order that the road space was available for the organization of the mural's QR codes. She is a wonderful facilitator for many neighbourhood projects. Sue along with Navi Khatar, another Community Developer for the city, helped Sherry Dunn, Jo Houghton, Tamara O'Brien, Yolanda Schella, Jeanne Lachance, Colin van der Ploeg, the Bateman Community Association and the Art Club students over two years (Mila, Keira, Eliza, Alexis, Iesha, Ally, Ashton, Bronwen, Seb, Nick, Hayley, Dalton, Michelle, Sabrina, Leah, Kaitlln, Corina, James, Scott, Oceana, Kathryn, Morgan, Aneasha, Mikayla, and Mikaela) working on the stencils and preparing for "Paint Day".

 
Sue looks forward to more people and more schools becoming involved in the project in the future.
 

Benjamin Moore very generously supplied the paint for the mural, some of which was recently given to a lovely family who have adopted a watchful eye over the work of public art. They have been taking care of the retaining wall's green mural over the last three-years.

 

One of the young girls in the family is like a guardian angel for the "Our Wall" mural project. Olivia has taken it upon herself to re-paint the mural green again whenever graffiti appears. Her father, Jason, is part of a Citizen's Patrol and he spoke to the project facilitator after the QR unveiling about what Olivia had been doing to take care of the art project by covering over the illicit and unwanted additions to "Our Wall". Since the mural has appeared the vandalism has abated on the large three meter tall section but graffiti continues in the empty green areas with no design yet added.

 

With the additions of the QR codes and the completion of both "wings" it is hoped that the unsanctioned additions to the mural will cease in these areas as well. Street artists are more respectful towards the work of other artists and it is also hoped that vandals will be respectful of the memorial dedications and celebrations of student art as well. "Our Wall" has saved the city a large expenditure in time and materials and improved the area's aesthetics hugely. Olivia's family's generosity and Olivia's voluntary actions to the "Our Wall" maintenance has spared tax payers the expense of the city having to hire workers to deal with the vandalism in the area.

 

The City of Abbotsford painted the initial green base for the "Our Wall" project with the donated paint and improved the site greatly with the addition of native plant species, river rock and ground cover below the mural and a walkway and split rail fence above the mural. The city continues to support the project and the public art has likely saved the public coffers close to $15,000.00 in labour and supplies when the retaining wall is not needing to be almost constantly re-painted. It was being tagged with great frequency before it became "Our Wall". The rate and scale of the graffiti has been greatly diminished on the retaining wall since 2013 when the mural was added.

Phase I was created in cooperation with more than one hundred people who painted the three meter tall sections of the mural. In 12 hours in one day we completed an 18 meter length of the design (54 square meters).

The "Our Wall" design is planned to be 53 meters long when the left and right sides are completed (more than 104 square meters in total). Twenty meters on the left-hand side features the "Spring" and "Summer" sections of the mural which show some of the local plants and animals of Stoney Creek, Clayburn Creek, and Palfy Park. Fifteen meters on the right-hand side contain the "Fall" and "Winter" sections which shows Wilband Creek, the Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean. The mural goes from creek to river to ocean in the seasonal transitions from left to right.

There are eight memorials planned for the mural at this time.

 

Animal totems will represent the different people in the memorial sections: Marisa Baldini (hummingbird & daffodil), Christine Caldwell (dragonfly and wildflower garden), Tony Anning (bulldog), Cheryl McCormack (deer and waterfall), Dallas Saunders (wolf pup running on winter ice), Sean Phillips (osprey), James Fisher (eagle) and Dustin Lansdown (man and nature).  These people are all local loved ones to be symbolized in the mural with strong connections to the Bateman community.

Nine national art winners are planned to be showcased as well:  Mikayla Gravelle (hummingbird), Milica Markovic (Bateman Park), Sora Yoon (warblers and dragonfly), Yun-Yun Lee (ladybug), Ria Ma (geese), Shery Boury (cariboo), Emily Starkey (seals) and Kaitlyn Ambury's (whale) along with the amazing artwork of a small selection of the many artists whom the public art facilitator has had the great honour and pleasure of teaching over 20 years of working for the district as a secondary school visual arts teacher: Sage Bullock (butterfly), Nichelle Martin (ladybug), Kiana Rosenkrantz (eagle), Taylor Main (Willband Creek), Mila Djordjvic (girl in forest), Amanda Merriman (hummingbird), Yun-Yun Lee (woman and tree of life), and many Art 9 students who created a large printmaking and painted mural along with Jessica Matthews (original in RBSS Library will be reproduced outside in "Our Wall" as well).

There is an initial draft of the "Our Wall" design with some of the QR codes illustrated here. The website also shows the many temporary "Our Wall" murals that were created to advertise "Paint Day" at HOFA, the S.D.#34 S.B.O., the Creative Learning Community, Complete Eye Care Optometry and North Poplar Elementary.

 

Two of the current QR codes on "Our Wall" are temporary as well.

 

They showcase an upcoming current event for the Fraser Valley community, that we'd like to see people in Abbotsford, Fort Langley, Chilliwack, Mission, Harrison and Agassiz get involved with: the BC Summer Games. The games start July 21st and are finished by July 24th. BC Summer Game brochures were distributed after the QR code unveiling was finished the following day at a regatta that had much more precipitation than Friday's event.

 

The games needs many more volunteers than the wall and occurs much sooner than the events we are planning for "Our Wall" so we would like to encourage people to get involved in another amazing and fun volunteer opportunity that contributes to the spirit of community in the valley and consider involving themselves in the local art project after the provincial event is finished in late July.

The other temporary QR code is for the Abbotsford Foundation Community Scholarships of 2016 of which many memorials from "Our Wall" have funded students in their educational pursuits. This QR code will be covered over with more permanent features in the public art wall design's Phase III plans. It is hoped, with the families and the Abbotsford Community Foundation's blessings and support, that individual QR codes would be created for the different memorial scholarships that are offered that have a relationship to the Bateman Community Association and public and private schools in the local area.

 

We'd also like to encourage members of community to donate funds to any number of scholarships and bursaries for students, but would like to particularly recognize the Kevin Lloyd Memorial Scholarship at this time as we lost a great teacher, friend and colleague to a battle with cancer recently and friends, family, staff and students have established an A.C.F. scholarship in his memory this year.

"Our wall" has a website for Phase I (www.theirwall.com) thanks to the generosity of Bill Henderson of Offload Studios for hosting the community wall project's on-line presence and offering technical advice to the project webmaster.

The mural was possible to accomplish thanks to the support of many community members for their assistance in creating a cooperative, collaborative, community concrete wall decor. "Our Wall" was supported by the following local businesses:  House of Fine Art, Staples, Shopper's Drug Mart, Rendezvous, J's Pizza, MacDonald's, Eze Rent-it, Bob Messer Installations, Centralta Renovations, and Sherry Lee Dunn ~ Artist.  Doug and Steve, two local Kinsmen hosted lunch for the volunteers on "Paint Day" and the City of Abbotsford provided outhouses and a wash station. 

The volunteers involved were too numerous to mention but Mary Krupa-Clark, Carman and Dawn MacKay, Ray Silver, Cori Soles and Aird Flavelle were some of the feature artists and celebrity participants supporting "Paint Day".

The Bateman Community Association was able to qualify for grants thanks to Chelsea Brubaker, Sherry Dunn, Jeff Frison, Jeanne Lachance, and Ranj Thakar. "Our Wall" thanks the Abbotsford Community Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, Vibrant Abbotsford, the RBSS PAC, Neighborhood Spirit Small Grants and the City of Abbotsford for the resources to fund an ambitious work of art and a large public participatory "Paint Day" that will be repeated in the near future with continued community support.

For more information on "Our Wall" or assistance with other neighbourhood improvement plans, please email the City of Abbotsford Community Developer via e-mail here at or call 604-557-1464.

 

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