Murals stripped from a building downtown are on their way to finding a new home.
Paintings created by artist Larry Hunter depicting the Empress Theatre and two car garages about a century ago on Front Street were taken down by the property owners because of building developments.
The Arts and Culture Advisory Committee has narrowed the new locations down to a couple of exposed walls along Front Street or the old bus barn on Ellis Street where FitKidz is presently situated.
“The Heritage and Museum Advisory felt keeping the context where they were supposed to be situated, i.e. Front Street, was a priority. Now it is just a matter of which wall will be best and approaching the property owners and asking if they would like to have the murals put up on those exposed walls,” said Peter Ord, museum manager.
Once the businesses have been contacted, the committee will vote on which walls are appropriate and forward it to council. City council then will vote to accept or deny the recommendation.
Ord said it was just a matter of a few hours work to take the murals off the Guerard Furniture building, which were then donated to the city. The murals were painted on plywood then framed using 2 x 4s so they were very sturdy and attached to the walls using lag bolts. Once taken down, the murals were put onto flatbed trucks and are stored at the city yards. Ord said the process of reconstructing them might be a little more work because there might be prep work on the new hanging walls and they will need a new coat of protectant. The murals were painted in 2007 and offer a glimpse at life in Penticton in the early 1900s.
“Certainly the Empress Theatre was unique. It was the first movie cinema in Penticton and was built in 1912.
The garage’s represent the arrival of the car to Penticton and the increased role that they played and what those garage’s did,” said Ord.
Hunter moved to Penticton in 1995 and mural work is one of his specialties. He was also commissioned by the Summerland Museum to create a mural with the Fur Brigade Trail theme and the Co-op Fruit Packing House heritage mural amongst others in not only the South Okanagan but around Canada. Ord said in particular the Penticton pieces are “fantastic.”
“He is quite well known for his work. The murals represent an interesting insight into Penticton’s past and with murals being such a highlight of downtown Penticton, this just adds that heritage component to it. There are still some pretty ugly walls around so jazzing them up with murals is a great idea,” said Ord.
The murals were taken down on Nov. 15 and it will be up to the Heritage and Museum Advisory to work with property owners to suggest an appropriate place to re-locate them to.